Just when it looked like the 44th Ryder Cup might be fizzling out, the third and final day of action is set to be the most intense yet.
Working out quite when the needle started is hard to pinpoint, but Brooks Koepka’s reaction to Jon Rahm’s astonishing fourball putt on Friday certainly didn’t help.
Neither did the partisan Rome crowd’s constant baiting of Team USA, but who could blame them celebrating record-breaking history after humiliation in 2021.
Team Europe destroyed the US on day one at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club, leaving them without a victory and almost out of the competition 6½ – 1½ down.
Koepka’s reaction – specifically calling Rahm a ‘pouty child’ – perhaps set the tone for an edgy Saturday, but a comeback of sorts certainly added an extra edge.
The morning began with world no.1 Scottie Scheffler in tears after a record breaking 9&7 loss to Ludvig Aberg and Viktor Hovland while playing alongside Koepka, but soon enough the first US win came.
Sam Burns and Collin Morikawa finally got the visitor’s first win on the board by downing Aberg and Hovland, but it was on the sixth green where things burst into life.
Later admitting he was provoked by jokes about his haircut from the crowd, Burns responded after hitting a birdie by shouting: “What’s that? Huh? I can’t f***ing hear you,” before trundling through the blue and yellow fans stoney-faced.
It may not have looked like the wisest call to be jibing the crowd while getting thrashed, but he and Morikawa eventually won 4&3 before Max Homa and Brian Harman beat Tommy Fleetwood and Nicolai Hojgaard 2&1 to get another point on the board.
Justin Rose and Robert MacIntyre blunted a more serious-looking comeback by taking down Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth 3&2, but it was in the final round where things boiled over.
The fans were again involved and mocking sartorial choices, this time taking off their hats to provoke Patrick Cantlay amid reports he wasn’t wearing his baseball cap over a pay dispute.
Cantlay and Wyndham Clark did fight back against Matt Fitzpatrick and Rory McIlroy, but unlike Burns, they managed to keep it to themselves – for a few minutes at least.
There was instead one unprecedented source of anger, this time a caddie.
The legendary Joe LaCava, who used to carry Tiger Woods bag, was instead the one who shockingly took things too far, responding to the crowd by whirling his hat around on 18 after Cantlay’s decisive winning putt.
McIlroy still had the chance to tie the match, though, and LaCava’s actions caused a mighty uproar with the Northern Irishman having to disrupt his preparations to move the caddie aside.
McIlroy didn’t make the putt, and then the US joined in with LaCava’s hat twirling, seeing the caddie at Europe’s Shane Lowrey almost come to blows on the green.
Then, in a shocking turn of events, footage captured McIlroy outside of the club being held back by Lowrey as he went after Justin Thomas’ caddie, appearing to shout ‘that’s f***ing disgraceful’.
The day ended 10½-5½, and while the USA may have only given themselves a puncher’s chance, they more importantly got in Europe’s heads.
What looked like a cakewalk after the morning’s action ended up with European smiles wiped off their faces and replaced with grimaces.
It may be exactly the motivation the hosts need to put their feet back on the gas and rack up a record win in Sunday’s singles, but however things play out on the scorecard, it certainly won’t be straight-forward on the greens.
talkSPORT 2 will bring you live commentary of the decisive singles matches starting at 10am on Sunday.