The United States got off to a strong start at the 2021 Ryder Cup on Friday.
The Americans bolted out to a 3-1 lead after the morning foursomes (alternate shot), in which Dustin Johnson and Xander Schauffele were part of two dominant performances.
Johnson and Schauffele combined for a victory in the afternoon four-ball round. The pair of 2-0 golfers earned one of two American victories in the second session.
Tony Finau and Harris English turned in the best showing of the afternoon session to secure at least a three-point lead for the home side at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. The United States ensured it got at least a half-point out of all four afternoon matches, with the other two ending in ties.
Steve Stricker's American team has a four-point lead going into Saturday's play. The lead is one point larger than the one the United States had after one day in its most recent Ryder Cup victory in 2016.
Ryder Cup Friday Results
United States 6, Europe 2
Jon Rahm & Sergio Garcia (EUR) def. Justin Thomas & Jordan Spieth (USA), 3 and 1.
Dustin Johnson & Collin Morikawa (USA) def. Paul Casey & Viktor Hovland (EUR), 3 and 2.
Brooks Koepka & Daniel Berger (USA) def. Lee Westwood & Matt Fitzpatrick (EUR), 2 and 1.
Patrick Cantlay & Xander Schauffele (USA) def. Rory McIlroy & Ian Poulter (EUR), 5 and 3.
Dustin Johnson & Xander Schauffele (USA) def. Paul Casey & Bernd Wiesberger (EUR), 2 and 1.
Tony Finau & Harris English (USA) def. Rory McIlroy & Shane Lowry (EUR), 4 and 3.
Scottie Scheffler & Bryson DeChambeau (USA) tied Jon Rahm & Tyrrell Hatton (EUR).
Justin Thomas & Patrick Cantlay (USA) tied Tommy Fleetwood & Viktor Hovland (EUR).
The Americans opened the event with a handful of fantastic performances in the morning session.
The Cantlay-Schauffele pairing stormed out to a five-shot lead over Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter, two of the most experienced players on either roster.
Cantlay and Schauffele maintained a laser focus and never gave McIlroy and Poulter a chance to get back into the match. The European duo only won two of the 15 holes played in the morning anchor matchup.
The most impressive shot from the morning round came from a player who did not win his match. Jordan Spieth was pinned against the cliff on the edge of the 17th green. He looped a shot high in the air and put the ball mere feet of the hole.
In the process, Spieth lost his balance and ran backward toward Lake Michigan, which resides on the left of the 17th hole at Whistling Straits.
Spieth and Justin Thomas lost that match to the Spanish duo of Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia. Rahm was responsible for 1.5 points Friday.
Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton battled to a tie with Bryson DeChambeau and Scottie Scheffler to pick up one of two half-points from the afternoon session. The English-Spanish pairing won the 18th hole with a birdie to keep DeChambeau and Scheffler from winning the match.
DeChambeau and Scheffler held a one-shot lead after the 15th hole, but they were unable to close out Rahm and Hatton on one of the next three holes.
The other half-point earned by both sides may have been the most important result of Day 1.
Cantlay and Thomas put together a three-shot comeback on the final 10 holes to earn a half-point that could be crucial for the United States in the coming days.
Thomas ignited the come-from-behind effort on the ninth hole. As his putt dropped in, Thomas let out a loud roar to fire up the crowd.
Thomas and Cantlay went on to win the 12th and 15th holes to take away what appeared to be a full point for Fleetwood and Hovland.
The United States cruised to wins in the other two afternoon matches.
Johnson and Schauffele combined to win their second matches of the day against Bernd Wiesberger and Paul Casey.
The Johnson-Schauffele pairing won three consecutive holes on the front nine and captured wins on the 10th and 11th holes to turn away any comeback effort from the Europeans.
Finau and English's was not in doubt once they made the turn. They won four of the five holes between Nos. 6 and 10 to hand McIlroy his second defeat of the day.
McIlroy's losses marked the first time in his Ryder Cup career that he fell in multiple matches on the same day.
The United States and Europe will do battle in the same format Saturday. The foursomes matches will be played first and followed by the four-ball games.