The hats were off. The gloves were off too. Today’s final day singles session at the 44th Ryder Cup will probably be started by a cry of ‘seconds away’ and the dong of a bell.

The feisty, passionate and aggressive scenes at the end of proceedings last night would’ve had the lions of the Colosseum scampering back to the safety of their pens with a whimper.

Europe lead 10 ½ - 5 ½ - they need just four points to win the cup back – but the US, floundering on the ropes for so long in this weekend’s bout, have renewed vigour. Too little, too late? Maybe, but miracles can happen in this fascinating, fluctuating old contest. History tells us that.

What transpired yesterday at Marco Simone was extraordinary. It started with a record-breaking 9&7 foursomes thumping of world No 1 Scottie Scheffler and Brooks Koepka by Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Aberg. Scheffler was reduced to tears.

It ended with eye-popping footage of Rory McIlroy remonstrating wildly in the car park and being physically restrained.

McIlroy’s fury was prompted by boisterous scenes on the 18th green as the inspired Patrick Cantlay finished birdie, birdie in the final match to claim a one-hole win over the Northern Irishman and his partner, Matt Fitzpatrick, to give the visitors a valuable 3-1 win in the session.

The absence of a hat from Cantlay’s head had led to fevered speculation that he was refusing to wear one in protest at not getting paid to play in the Ryder Cup. “It doesn’t fit, that’s all,” Cantlay said as he pleaded his innocence.

Hat-gate, as it was swiftly christened, then led to the increasingly giddy crowds taunting Cantlay all afternoon with chants of “hats off for your bank account”.

It all came to a hatless head on the last as Cantlay drained a decisive birdie putt and mimicked a doff of the cap while his team-mates waved theirs in the air. Cantlay’s caddie Joe LaCava, meanwhile, joined in the celebrations. A little to vigorously for McIlroy’s liking who said, “it added fuel to the fire,” ahead of the singles. Judging by his finger-jabbing rantings later on, an entire petrol station forecourt had been flung on those flames.

“I was there on 18,” added the European captain, Luke Donald, of the drama. “I saw it unfold when Patrick made that putt. Rory politely asked Joe to move aside. He was in his line of vision. He stood there and didn't move for a while and continued to wave the hat, so I think Rory was upset about that.”

Having just about flat-lined, the US now have a pulse. After losing the morning foursomes 3-1, they were 9 ½ - 2 ½ behind but the fourballs rally during a lively, absorbing afternoon gave them hope. The largest Ryder Cup comeback on the final day is from four points down. The US will have to giddy-up.

Amid the general tumult, there was joy for Robert MacIntyre as he stepped up to the plate and played a major part in a 3&2 win with his brilliant mentor Justin Rose over Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas. It was Europe’s only success of the afternoon.

There was a point when you thought the Scot couldn’t buy a putt even if they were flogging them at a discounted price in the official merchandise tent. 

On the 13th hole of a nip-and-tuck encounter, though, he calmly stroked in a testing five-footer for a birdie to move the Europeans two-up. A valve had been released. The fist pump illustrated the magnitude of the moment. 

“The celebration was more of relief,” said MacIntyre, who felt he had let Rose down during the double-act’s halved match on Friday when he toiled on the greens. “There were a lot of nerves but you have to embrace them. I’d finally got one and that was huge.

“I didn’t actually know if I was going to play. I was told two hours before the tee time and I was like ‘right, here’s your chance now’. I felt like I earned my stripe today.”

He certainly did. “I was barking at him on the back nine, ‘c’mon Bobby’,” added the vastly experienced Rose. “He stepped up.”

It was a good day all round for MacIntyre. The shinty team his dad manages – and the one MacIntyre occasionally turns out for – avoided relegation.

“My dad told me on the seventh tee,” he chuckled. “He told me that Kilmallie had beaten Strathglass 6-1 and we drew 2-2. That’s a smashing effort, so we will be playing shinty next year.”

There’s a small matter of a Ryder Cup clash in the anchor match with US Open champion Wyndham Clark to come first.

Hold on to your hats, folks.