ROME - Scottie Scheffler got Sunday's final singles under way, with the Ryder Cup set for a fiery climax after Rory McIlroy's row with Patrick Cantlay's caddie overshadowed the American's late surge in Saturday's fourballs which gave the USA a glimmer of hope.
The 12 singles matches were already going to be spicy affairs as the visitors need a record-breaking comeback from 10.5-5.5 down to win the trophy for the first time on European soil in 30 years.
World number one Scheffler has endured a miserable week so far, winning just half a point from three matches, but has a shot at redemption against European talisman Jon Rahm in the opening clash.
Viktor Hovland then faces Collin Morikawa and Justin Rose takes on Cantlay, whose caddie Joe LaCava took unwanted headlines on Saturday for his spat with McIlroy, who plays Sam Burns in the fourth match.
There could be added needle between the two teams following the explosive aftermath of a dramatic and tension-packed win for Cantlay and Wyndham Clark sealed on the 18th green of the Marco Simone course in Rome, the third for the US in Saturday's four afternoon fourballs.
Cantlay and Clark prevailed in the day's final match against McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick, sparking wild celebrations from the US team and fans.
However McIlroy was enraged by the behaviour of Cantlay's caddie LaCava, who was waving his hat and refused to move out of the four-time major winner's way while he was waiting to take a putt which could have halved the hole and match for Europe.
Northern Irishman McIlroy was then filmed having another blazing row with an unidentified member of the USA team in the course carpark, having to be pulled away and bundled into a car by teammate Shane Lowry.
Europe captain Luke Donald told reporters that McIlroy thought "the line was crossed" with LaCava's behaviour, causing a row which dominated headlines following an epic session which ended at nearly 7:00pm local time (1700 GMT).
It was a win earned largely thanks to Cantlay, who sunk three crucial putts in the final three holes just as momentum appeared to have definitively swung in the Europeans' favour.
- 'Ray of light' -
The most impressive was at 18, a 30-footer drained under huge pressure which eventually led to McIlroy losing his cool with his American counterparts, who had been trailing by seven points at lunchtime after a dismal effort in the morning foursomes.
"Hopefully have a ray of light and we can build on this session and try and pull off a big victory tomorrow," said Cantlay who competed Saturday without a cap, although he denied the gesture was in protest at players not being paid.
The USA still have a massive task on their hands as no team has ever recovered from more than a four-point deficit at the end of the second day.
That leaves Europe still favourites as they seek the four points needed to claim their seventh straight home win in the Ryder Cup.
Robert MacIntyre and Rose cruised to a three and two victory over Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth who had come into the tournament with a formidable matchplay record.
"I just knew there was a huge opportunity today," said Rose.
- 'Win or die trying' -
By that time the USA had already collected two of their afternoon points with convincing wins.
Burns and Morikawa cruised to a 4 and 3 victory over Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Aberg, who ran out of gas after dishing out a record-breaking 9 and 7 foursomes hammering to Scheffler and Brooks Koepka.
Max Homa and Brian Harman were the only bright spots in the morning foursomes for Johnson's team.
The pair followed that up by prevailing 2 and 1 over Tommy Fleetwood and Nicolai Hojgaard, and Harman had no illusions about their chances on Sunday.
"Backs against the wall. We've got a deep hole to climb out of," admitted Harman.
"But we've got some good players and got a good team. So we're going to fight like hell and either win or die trying."
Both Donald and US skipper Zach Johnson have frontloaded their teams, sending out their strongest and most in-form players out early.
The hosts will be hoping to get off to a fast start and regain the cup quickly, while the Americans are desperate for some quick momentum to give the players lower down the order hope, much like what happened in Europe's epic 'Miracle at Medinah' comeback in 2012.