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Ryder Cup: U.S. takes historic early lead over Europe after first day

Ryder Cup: U.S. takes historic early lead over Europe after first day
Team USA's Xander Schauffele (L) and Patrick Cantlay (R) bump fists on the fifth green during the 43rd Ryder Cup on Friday at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. Photo by Mark Black/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 24 (UPI) -- The United States grabbed a 6-2 lead over Europe at the Ryder Cup on Friday for its largest opening-day advantage at the event since 1975.

Xander Schauffele and Dustin Johnson each won two matches and all six U.S. newcomers contributed at least a half-point on the first day at Whistling Straits in Sheboygan, Wis.

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The U.S. won both sessions in building its massive lead, with the Americans going 3-1 in the morning foursomes play and 3-1 in the afternoon four-ball competition.

It was just the fourth time that the U.S. won the opening two sessions since the Ryder Cup expanded to include all of Europe in 1979. It also occurred in 1979, 2008 and 2010.

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"From when we walked on the first tee today and finished this afternoon, the crowds have been amazing," Johnson said. "The fans have been great, and they have been pretty respectful, too, for both sides. It's been so much fun. Obviously the fans make this event."

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The first point of the 43rd Ryder Cup -- postponed by one year due to the COVID-19 pandemic -- went to Europe and its duo of Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia, who topped the American duo of Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth.

The U.S. team responded by sweeping the remainder of the foursome matches in the morning session. Johnson and Collin Morikawa defeated Paul Casey and Viktor Hovland 3 and 2, while Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger beat Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick 2 and 1.

Patrick Cantlay and Schauffele closed the morning with a 5-and-3 win over Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy.

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"I thought 3-1 and 3-1 in the two sessions, that's a great start," Cantlay said. "Hopefully, we can keep the pedal down and keep doing more of the same."

Despite the early 3-1 lead, U.S. captain Steve Stricker opted to break up all of his American teams ahead of the afternoon session.

The decision proved to pay off, with the team of Johnson and Schauffele going up early on Bernd Wiesberger and Casey in the first four-ball match, eventually winning 2 and 1.

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Tony Finau and Harris English then earned a 4-and-3 victory over McIlroy and Shane Lowry.

"You just have to enjoy it," said Finau, who had six birdies. "These people out here cheering us on, you can't help but enjoy it. I learned that in Paris. I had a great partner in Harris, [and] he really picked me up. We were in play all day and put a lot of pressure on them."

The Europeans salvaged some momentum in the afternoon session when Tyrrell Hatton birdied the 18th hole to put him and Rahm in a tie with Bryson DeChambeau and Scottie Scheffler.

The final match of the day also ended in a halve when Thomas delivered a late eagle putt that allowed him and Cantlay to rebound from a 3-down deficit against Hovland and Tommy Fleetwood.

The Ryder Cup is set to resume at 8:05 a.m. EDT Saturday with foursomes competition.

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