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Ryder Cup 2021: United States lead Europe 6-2 at Whistling Straits

The United States have taken a commanding first-day lead over Europe in the 2021 Ryder Cup at the Whistling Straits Golf Course.

After dominating the foursomes on Friday morning, Team United States took an early 3-1 lead, just as they did three years ago in Paris.

And the Americans would build on their advantage in the afternoon fourballs, despite shuffling the team, to end day one 6-2 in front.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, fewer fans have been able to travel to Wisconsin to support Europe, and chants of “USA” could be heard louder as the day progressed.

Europe has won the Ryder Cup in nine of the last 12 meetings and is hoping to retain the trophy after their last success in France in 2018.

They need 14 points to retain the trophy, but a team has not recovered from a four-point deficit on the first day of a Ryder Cup since 1999.

The United States meanwhile need just 8.5 more points over the next two days to win the trophy back on home soil.

First blood to Europe, but the US respond

In the day’s first foursomes match, Europe’s new “Spanish Armada” — Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia — scored the tournament’s first point.

A series of long putts from World Number 1 Rahm led the pair to victory, and they closed out a 3-and-1 win over Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas.

It is the first time the two Spanish golfers have played together, and the victory tied Garcia for most overall Ryder Cup wins.

But the US were soon level, as Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa took a 3-and-2 win over England’s Paul Casey and Norway’s Viktor Hovland — who was making his Ryder Cup debut.

And in the third alternate-shot match, Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger triumphed 2-and-1 over two English golfers Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick.

The strongest showing of the morning came from the American pair of Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele.

Despite facing experienced British opponents in Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter, Cantlay and Schauffele won the first five holes of the match and were never threatened. The American rookies eventually sealed a comfortable 5-and-3 win.

Europe struggles in the fourballs

At the 2018 Ryder Cup, Team United States gave up to 3-1 lead on the first day by losing all four afternoon fourballs.

But on Friday in Wisconsin, the Americans kept up their early momentum, and secured at least a half-point in each match.

First Tony Finau and Harris English defeated McIlroy and Shane Lowry — another European rookie — 4-and-3.

Minutes later, Johnson and Schauffele returned to the course and held off the challenge of Casey and Austrian Bernd Wiesberger, making it 5-1 to the United States.

Europe were able to salvage their first half-point of the afternoon when Tyrell Hatton made a seven-foot putt on the 18th green.

Hatton and his partner Rahm had tussled with Bryson DeChambeau and Scottie Scheffler throughout the 18 holes, but the match was halved.

Tommy Fleetwood — who won four points for Europe in 2018 — was paired with Hovland for the final fourballs on Friday, and they too secured 0.5 points.

Fleetwood and Hovland had led through most of the match, but a spirited comeback from Thomas and Cantlay resulted in a tie.

The 6-2 advantage for the United States is their largest at a Ryder Cup opening day since 1975.

And with all 24 players in action, it was also the first time since 1961 that neither side kept a pairing together on the first day in tournament history.

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