Day 1 of the Ryder Cup saw expected results and unexpected shots. The United States finished Friday in the lead, and Europe will have work to do to hold onto the cup. Team USA heads into the weekend up four points on Europe, 6-2, following a late European rally. The four-point lead is the United States' largest after the first day since 1975.
All 12 players from each team played in at least one of the two sessions Friday. For the first time in modern Ryder Cup history, no pairing from the opening round remained paired for the second session — quite a surprise, given that the pairings of Jon Rahm/Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson/Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele/Patrick Cantlay all had substantial success.
The Americans took three of four opening foursome (alternate shot) matches, powered by Schauffele and Cantlay eviscerating Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter. The Europeans had little success outside of Rahm and Garcia, who thundered over the heralded American duo of Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth.
An early deficit is nothing new to Europe, who hasn't led outright after the first session since 2006. However, that hasn't hurt Europe's long-term chances, given that it has won seven of the past nine and nine of the past 12 cups.
For whatever reason, the Europeans tend to rebound well in the afternoon session, and once the wind off Lake Michigan picked up, it appeared the Europeans would be well on the way to evening up the score. But the Americans battled back to establish a significant lead heading into the weekend.
Tony Finau claimed the first points of the afternoon for Team USA, carrying Harris English along for the ride as they knocked out Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry, 4&3. This marked the first time McIlroy had lost two matches in a single day in his Ryder Cup career, and also marked a severe dent in Europe captain Padraig Harrington's hopes.
"I've got a lot of pride in my country," Finau said after the match. "I love pressure. You have to in Ryder Cup situations."
Johnson and Schauffele took the second point of the late session when Schauffele drained a putt on 17 to close out Paul Casey and Bernd Wiesberger, 2&1. Like the Finau/English match, this was mostly a matter of keeping Europe at bay after staking a large lead.
"Always nice when you've got DJ free flowing and playing some great golf," Schauffele said. "It's always a beautiful thing to watch."
Later, Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton stopped the bleeding for the Europeans, claiming a half point in their match with Bryson DeChambeau and Scottie Scheffler. This was the most competitive match of the day, both teams scuffling for points, and it was the first to reach the 18th hole.
"Had a great partner here, loved every minute of it," DeChambeau said. "Hope we can do it again."
The best match of the day was the final one, as Thomas and Cantlay battled back from a three-hole deficit after eight holes to take the match to the 18th all square with Tommy Fleetwood and Viktor Hovland. All four players put their tee shots in the fairway, all four ended up on the green with short par putts ... and they ended up splitting the hole to leave the Europeans four points behind.
The most impressive shot of the day belonged to DeChambeau, who unleashed a massive 417-yard drive on the fifth hole that obliterated the Europeans' one-shot lead and the golf world's sense of what's possible:
Ummmm the Bryson line on 5.
He has (checks notes) 72 yards left into the par 5. pic.twitter.com/dM3dECgAYr
— Ryan Lavner (@RyanLavnerGC) September 24, 2021
The most spectacular shot of the day came a few hours earlier, in the morning session, when Jordan Spieth found himself stuck in nearly vertical rough alongside the 17th. He swung away, and pulled off a miracle approach:
Unfortunately for Spieth, Thomas couldn't convert the resulting short putt, and the Americans surrendered their only point of the morning.
One funny moment of the afternoon session came when DeChambeau was putting and his poor caddy tried to remove the flag while the ball was rolling. Fortunately for him, DeChambeau's putt ended just short of the cup:
— Ryder Cup USA (@RyderCupUSA) September 24, 2021
Johnson and Schauffele both claimed 2-0 records to lead the Americans. On the European side, McIlroy, projected as one of Team Europe's stalwarts, struggled in both of his sessions. Rahm battled back to total 1 1/2 points after a strong opening session.
The Ryder Cup continues Saturday with fourballs teeing off at 8 a.m. ET, with foursomes to follow after noon and singles to close out the tournament Sunday.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee or contact him at email@example.com.