09/24/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 09/24/2021 21:17
SHEBOYGAN, Wis. -- The Americans haven't opened with a lead this large in the Ryder Cup since Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino were playing, and before Tiger Woods was even born.
That didn't seem to be big enough to satisfy U.S. captain Steve Stricker.
Dustin Johnson and Xander Schauffele each won two matches, Bryson DeChambeau smashed a drive that had everyone talking and the Americans were relentless Friday at Whistling Straits in losing only one match to build a 6-2 lead.
"It's a great start. We are happy with the start," Stricker said. "But my message to the guys is tomorrow is a new day. Pretend today never happened, and let's keep our foot down and continue to play the golf that we know we can play."
Oh, how Europe would like to forget this day ever happened.
Rory McIlroy never made it to the 16th hole in losing both his matches on the opening day for the first time. The lone bright spot was Jon Rahm, living up his No. 1 ranking by winning in foursomes with Sergio Garcia and keeping Europe in a tight fourballs match long enough for Tyrrell Hatton to birdie the last hole to at least salvage a half-point.
Europe has never trailed by four points after the first day since the Ryder Cup was expanded to include the continent in 1979, the modern era of these matches that Europe now dominates.
Go back to 1975 to find the last time the U.S. had a four-point lead in the Ryder Cup.
"No doubt, it was a tough day," European skipper Padraig Harrington said, attributing the difference to a putt here, there and pretty much everywhere. "There's obviously still 20 points to play for."
Suddenly, though, there seems to be a sense of urgency. The Americans were delivering big moments and the big smiles, waving up hands to get the one-sided gallery to cheer even louder, cupping hands to their ears to urge them along.
They are looking for a fresh start after a quarter-century of losing, and its youngest team in history took a big step to creating their own memories.
"They fought hard every single shot out there, from what I saw," DeChambeau said after he and Scottie Scheffler earned a halve in fourballs. "This is a great start, but the job's not over. We have two more days. A lot more golf. And we cannot lose our mindset to win."
The first point of the 43rd Ryder Cup, postponed one year by the pandemic, went to Europe and its new "Spanish Armada" of Rahm and Garcia.
The final match ended in a halve when Justin Thomas delivered a late eagle putt that allowed him and Patrick Cantlay to come all the way back from a 3-down deficit.