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U.S. Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker said he would not deviate from his script concerning his pairings, no matter what happened Friday morning.

Well, the Americans jumped out to a 3-1 lead as the teams of Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay, Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger, and Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa delivered victories in Foursomes play at Whistling Straits.

Whether or not Stricker changed up things because of what he saw in the morning is unknown, but he sent out all 12 of his charges on the first day.

Sitting in the afternoon for the U.S. were Jordan Spieth, Morikawa, Berger and Koepka. Euro captain Padraig Harrington mixed it up, too. Sitting for the Europeans were Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick.

– Steve DiMeglio

Finau, English strike first

A year ago, the idea that Rory McIlroy would not only go 0-2 to start a Ryder Cup, including a loss to a pair of American Ryder Cup rookies in Four-Ball, probably seemed as likely as the four-time major winner dropping out of the top 10.

Well, Rory is currently ranked No. 14 on the Official World Golf Ranking, and after falling 5 and 3 with Ian Poulter in the morning’s Foursomes to Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schuffele, McIlroy and Shane Lowry lost to Harris English and Tony Finau 4 and 3 in the afternoon’s Foursomes.

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The match was tied until it reached the fifth hole, where McIlroy hit a 368-yard tee shot over a waste area. The ball came to rest in the second cut of rough, just 121 yards from the hole. McIlroy’s approach bounded to the back of the green, but he holed the 31-foot eagle putt to give the European squad a 1-up lead.

Then, however, things changed after Finau drove the green on the 331-yard par-4 sixth hole. Lowry slipped on a hillside while looking at the lie of his ball in the deep rough before McIlroy’s pitched from behind the green came up short. McIlroy’s birdie putt missed on the left, and when Finau cozied his eagle attempt to within 2 feet for a conceded birdie, the match was tied again.

The teams halved the par-3 seventh hole, but then English drained a 10-footer to win the eighth. After stuffing a wedge shot close on the ninth hole, Finau made another birdie to win a hole before draining a 15-footer on the 10th hole. When McIlroy missed his birdie chance on 10, suddenly the Americans had won four of the last five holes and had a 3-up lead on the back nine.

After the teams halved the 12th and 13th holes, the American’s win probability rose to 88 percent. Another hole-winning birdie putt from Finau, this one from 11 feet, gave Finau and English a 4-up lead and pushed it above 98 percent.

When Finau’s curling right-to-left putt for par on the 15th hole fell into the cup, the match was over.

“I love pressure, I think you have to in Ryder Cup situations,” Finau said afterward. “I have a great time in these atmospheres and we had a great time out there.”

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Team USA player Harris English reacts to his putt with Team USA player Tony Finau on the eighth green during day one four-ball rounds for the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits. Photo by Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

“We had a great time. Tony putted unbelievably,” English said. “It was hard to putt out here the way the wind was blowing out here, but man we had a great time. We were feeding off the fans. The fans were incredible today.”

The loss marked the first time that McIlroy lost two matches in the same Ryder Cup session.

– David Dusek

DJ, Schauffele knock out Casey, Wiesberger

Dustin Johnson won two points in one day at the Ryder Cup for the first time. DJ, with NBA legend Michael Jordan in the gallery, teamed with Xander Schauffele to beat the Euro team of Paul Casey and Bernd Wiesberger.

After the teams traded pars, Johnson and Schauffele won the next three holes. Casey and Wiesberger won Nos. 6 and 9 to cut the deficit, but Johnson and Schauffele won Nos. 10 and 11 to go 3 up.

“I thought we did a great job of, like I said, ham-and-egging it and I rolled in some nice putts on 11 and 12,” Johnson said.

Schauffele didn’t hesitate to heap on some praise.

“Pivotal part of the match,” he said of those putts. “It was a key point. I just sort of took a step back and tried to stay out of his way. That’s what you do when Dustin is rolling. And it was big momentum shifts because they were looking to win a couple holes back, but Dustin sort of made that putt prior and ended up putting pressure on their short putts to win. Those are big putts in the middle part of the round.”

Schauffele, one of six American rookies, made the clinching putt on the 17th green, giving the duo a 2-and-1 win. Like DJ, Schauffele won two points on Friday. This win pushed the American lead to 5-1. The U.S. needs 14½ to win the Ryder Cup.

– Todd Kelly

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Team USA player Bryson DeChambeau fist-bumps his caddie Brian Zeigler on the sixth hole during day one four-ball rounds for the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

DeChambeau, Scheffler earn ½ point

After going winless in three matches in France in 2018 and sitting out morning foursomes on Friday, Bryson DeChambeau contributed his first Ryder Cup point for Team USA – a half point – teaming with Scottie Scheffler to tie World No. 1 Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton.

DeChambeau made an unforgettable eagle after Hatton and Rahm grabbed the first lead, winning the fourth hole with par. DeChambeau mashed driver at the par-5 fifth hole, taking an angle that course designer Pete Dye never imagined at the double-dogleg.

It measured 417 yards and left him just 72 yards to the hole at 581-yard hole.

“He must’ve hit two sprinkler heads,” cracked Greg Norman on SiriusXM.

DeChambeau wedged to 4 feet and won the hole with an eagle. It proved to be a spark, as he walked in a 21-foot birdie putt at the 8th to give Team USA a 1-up lead, but it didn’t last long as Rahm launched a 341-yard drive at nine, wedged to seven feet and tied the match with a birdie.

From there, it was a back-and-forth affair, with Scheffler making one of his two birdies of the day at 10 to win the hole, but Rahm answered with a birdie for the win at 11. The next hole was tied as Rahm and DeChambeau both stuck tee shots at the par 3 to two feet for easy birdies. DeChambeau blasted a 392-yard drive at No. 13, but into a bunker and was stymied. The deadlock was broken at the 15th hole when Rahm and Hatton could do no better a best-ball of bogey.

Rahm and Hatton refused to go down to defeat. In the first match of the day to reach the 18th hole, Hatton drilled a 5-iron from 203 yards to seven feet and canned the putt to win the hole and salvage half a point for Team Europe.

“It was a good match. It was a good battle,” Rahm said. “It feels good to get that half point. Things like this can turn the tide.”

– Adam Schupak

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JT, Cantlay end day with a tie

The final match of the afternoon came down to three players who were involved with the morning session, as well as Tommy Fleetwood, who was rested in Foursomes. Fleetwood entered the week with a Ryder Cup record of 4-1-0 after a dominating performance in Paris in 2018.

The pressure was on for the European side, as they fell behind 3 to 1 after morning foursomes. Fleetwood and Hovland would find themselves down early after an, you could say, upset Justin Thomas walked in a birdie putt on the first. It’s hard to find someone on the planet who thrives off the crowd more than JT.

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Team USA player Justin Thomas reacts to his putt on the ninth hole during day one four-ball matches for the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Fleetwood was able to bury an eight-footer on the second to stay within one. Hovland then gave life to the pairing after chipping in for birdie on the par-3 third, tying up the match. On the next hole, Hovland became the first player in the afternoon wave to hit the fourth green in regulation, and Europe took a 1 up lead.

A Fleetwood birdie on the driveable par-4 sixth put the Europeans 2 up. But before making the turn, Thomas buried a birdie bid on the ninth and exploded with emotion to get the match back to 2 down for the U.S. pair after a Fleetwood birdie on the eighth pushed it to 3 up.

The U.S. team was left off the hook on 10 and 11 as Fleetwood missed two birdie putts inside six feet, both of which were to win the hole. Then there was a near-ace from Cantlay on 12 to get the Americans to 1 down.

After three halved holes, on the par-5 16th, Thomas fired a 3-wood from 280 yards to 17 feet for an eagle chance to square up the match.

BUCKETS.

They went to the par-3 17th tied.

Thomas, from 227 into the wind, slung his approach from right-to-left, finishing 18 feet from the hole. His birdie bid sat on the lip, and the match went to 18 all square.

All four players found the fairway down the last, but Thomas had the shortest approach (193 yards). Cantlay and Fleetwood both found the front-right greenside bunker, Hovland’s approach rolled off the back but was right over the stick, and Thomas took a little off a seven and stuck his iron shot to 25 feet.

Fleetwood nearly holed his bunker shot. Cantlay also hit a gem from the sand and locked up a par for the American side. Hovland missed his putt from the fringe, putting the fate of the match into Thomas’ hands.

His attempt came up short so that match was halved, and the score going into Saturday morning’s Foursomes session will be 6 to 2 in favor of the U.S..

Notably, it’s the largest U.S. lead after day 1 in 46 years.

– Riley Hamel

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