But that was when the Americans routinely dominated the event. Since the mid-1990s, the script has been reversed, with the Europeans having won four of the past five events and nine of the past 12.
“It was good to finally get things going, and it was obviously a good start,” Steve Stricker, the U.S. nonplaying captain, said. “We’d like to win every session.”
Stricker, a mild-mannered Wisconsin native not known for risky moves, took some big chances with his afternoon pairings after the Americans had built a 3-1 lead in the morning matches. Every match featured two-man teams from each side. The morning format was foursomes, in which players alternate hitting the same golf ball on a hole, while the afternoon brought a four-ball format, in which each golfer plays his own ball, and the lower score for a team decides the result on a hole.
The strongest American combination in the morning was Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay, two of the American team’s six Ryder Cup rookies. The pair surged to a big lead early and routed the high-profile, veteran European team of Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter, 5 and 3.