USA lead Europe 6-2 after day one of 2021 Ryder Cup

Tokyo 2020 gold medallist Xander Schauffele and Dustin Johnson scored two points apiece as USA built a commanding lead in the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits.

By Rory Jiwani
Picture by RICHARD HEATHCOTE/GETTY IMAGES

It's very much advantage USA after day one of the biggest team event in men's golf, the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, USA.

The home team won the morning foursomes 3-1 and repeated that scoreline in the afternoon fourballs to take a healthy lead into the weekend.

Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia took the first point against Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, but it was close to one-way traffic after that.

Olympic champion Xander Schauffele and Dustin Johnson were in sparkling form, winning their morning matches before teaming up to beat Paul Casey and Bernd Wiesberger in the afternoon.

They were the only two men to score two points on day one with Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton earning a half against Scottie Scheffler and Bryson DeChambeau, who delighted the crowd with an enormous drive on the par-5 fifth.

USA on top in morning foursomes

Rahm and Garcia took the top foursomes match 3&1 against Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas with Garcia taking his Ryder Cup record tally to 26.5 points since his debut in 1999.

He also moved to 12.5 points in Ryder Cup foursomes, the alternate shot format, breaking his tie with Bernhard Langer.

Rahm certainly did most of the heavy lifting, making three birdie putts in five holes to put the Spaniards two-up after nine, as the visitors made the first mark on the scoreboard.

But it was a sea of red for Team USA after that.

Johnson and Open champion Collin Morikawa were superb against Casey and European rookie Viktor Hovland.

The Norwegian did his best, but former world number one Johnson's pinpoint short irons proved decisive with Morikawa calmly converting the opportunities for a 3&2 victory.

Schauffele and PGA Tour player of the season Patrick Cantlay fairly thumped Europe's experienced pair of Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter.

The two Californian rookies won each of the first five holes and, despite a mini-revival from the Europeans after the turn, cruised to a 5&3 win.

The third match also went the way of the home team as Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger got the better of Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick 2&1.

Westwood, who equalled Nick Faldo's record of 11 Ryder Cup appearances having made his debut back in 1997, helped Europe draw level at the turn.

But birdies on 10 and 11 saw Koepka and Berger into a lead they would never lose as USA closed out the session 3-1 in front.

Hatton rescues half as Europe toil in afternoon fourballs

Europe captain Padraig Harrington said he would use all 12 players on the opening day with USA counterpart Steve Stricker doing likewise.

Schauffele and Johnson went out first in the better ball contests and three consecutive birdies saw them go three-up on Wiesberger and Casey after five.

Basketball great Michael Jordan clearly liked what he saw.

Wiesberger, the first Austrian to play in a Ryder Cup, pulled one back on the sixth before Casey closed the gap to one on the ninth.

But birdies on 10 and 11 saw the Americans into a lead they never looked like losing with a 2&1 victory the result.

It was a case of the English, Harris English, beating the Irish in match three although Tony Finau's hot putter was pivotal in earning Team USA another point.

Finau made four birdies around the turn with an out-of-sorts McIlroy and Shane Lowry unable to respond.

English and Finau won 4&3 to inflict further pain on the Europeans.

As well as pleasing the home support with his big hitting, DeChambeau holed some important putts including one for birdie on 15 to put he and Scheffler into the lead for the first time against Rahm and Hatton.

With the next two holes shared, this was the first match to go down the 18th, and Hatton played a superb approach before holing out from six feet for birdie to halve the match and prompt the biggest cheer of the day from the small European contingent.

Over seven hours had passed between Rahm and Garcia's first point and that half which also involved the world number one.

In the bottom match, Hovland and Tommy Fleetwood went three-up on Thomas and Cantlay after just eight holes.

Back came the hosts with Thomas making birdie on nine, and Cantlay a two on the short 12th.

Then on the par-5 16th, Fleetwood found water and Thomas took full advantage with an eagle to make it all square with two to play.

The final two holes were halved in pars leaving it all-square and Team USA well on top.

Six of the last seven Ryder Cup matches have gone to the home team, and Team Europe will need something very special in Saturday's foursomes and fourballs to keep their hopes of retaining the trophy alive.

2021 Ryder Cup - Day 1 results (USA first)

Morning foursomes

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth lost to Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia 3&1
Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa def. Paul Casey and Viktor Hovland 3&2
Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger def. Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick 2&1
Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele def. Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter 5&3

Afternoon fourballs

Johnson and Schauffele def. Bernd Wiesberger and Casey 2&1
Scottie Scheffler and Bryson DeChambeau halved with Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton
Harris English and Tony Finau def. McIlroy and Shane Lowry 4&3
Thomas and Cantlay halved with Tommy Fleetwood and Hovland

Score at end of Day 1: Team USA 6, Team Europe 2

2021 Ryder Cup teams

United States

Non-playing captain: Steve Stricker

Non-playing vice-captains: Fred Couples, Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson, Davis Love III, Phil Mickelson

Playing squad: Daniel Berger (world number 16), Patrick Cantlay (#4), Bryson DeChambeau (#7), Harris English (#11), Tony Finau (#10), Dustin Johnson (#2), Brooks Koepka (#9), Collin Morikawa (#3), Xander Schauffele (#5), Scottie Scheffler (#21), Jordan Spieth (#14), Justin Thomas (#6)

Europe

Non-playing captain: Pádraig Harrington (Ireland)

Non-playing vice-captains: Luke Donald (England), Robert Karlsson (Sweden), Martin Kaymer (Germany), Graeme McDowell (N. Ireland), Henrik Stenson (Sweden)

Playing squad: Paul Casey (England, world number 23), Matthew Fitzpatrick (England, #27), Tommy Fleetwood (England, #36), Sergio García (Spain, #43), Tyrrell Hatton (England, #19), Viktor Hovland (Norway, #13), Shane Lowry (Ireland, #40), Rory McIlroy (N. Ireland, #15), Ian Poulter (England, #49), Jon Rahm (Spain, #1), Lee Westwood (England, #34), Bernd Wiesberger (Austria, #61)

Remaining Ryder Cup schedule

All times are local Central Daylight Savings Time (CDT, 5 hours behind UTC). Start times are appropriate and may change due to conditions.

Saturday 25 September
Morning foursomes tee off at 7:05am, 7:21am, 7:37am, 7:53am
Afternoon four-ball matches tee off at 12:10pm, 12:26pm, 12:42pm, 12:58pm
Play is expected to conclude around 6:30pm.

Sunday 26 September
The first singles match tees off at 11:04am, with matches teeing off at 11-minute intervals.
The last singles match tees off at 1:05pm.
Play is expected to conclude around 4:55pm.