Collin Morikawa helped the Americans jump out to a 3-1 lead at the Ryder Cup after Friday morning’s foursomes competition.
Morikawa teamed with Dustin Johnson to score a 3 and 2 victory over the European duo of England’s Paul Casey and Norway’s Viktor Hovland.
In four-ball competition in the afternoon, the Americans again won three of four matches to complete a sweep of the two first-day sessions for just the fourth time since 1979 and build their margin to 6-2.
It's the biggest one-day lead for the Americans since 1975.
It was a great start for the home team competing at Whistling Straits Golf Course in Kohler, Wisconsin, after the Europeans prevailed in four of the previous five Ryder Cups.
And it was an encouraging Ryder Cup debut for Morikawa, the 24-year-old Cal grad, who had not played well in recent months after pulling a muscle in his lower back at the Tokyo Olympics.
Morikawa did not play in afternoon four-ball matches, but will team with Johnson again in Saturday morning's foursome session. They will take on the English duo of Casey and Tyrell Hatton, beginning at 4:21 a.m. PT.
Morikawa helped the Americans No. 2 team clinch the win on the par-5 16th hole. After Johnson’s tee shot, Morikawa hit a 3-wood 231 yards onto the green and Johnson got it close from 30 feet, allowing Morikawa to convert the birdie putt
"Everyone knows he's a really good iron player, and if I'm driving it well and in the fairway, we're going to be a pretty tough team," said Johnson, who later teamed with Xander Schauffele to win in the afternoon.
Morikawa said it was a huge help having a golfer with Johnson's experience by his side.
“Dustin has been one of the best players in the world for a long time,” he said, “and to have someone like that, to have my first match in the Ryder Cup, I trust him a lot and it felt very comfortable. Thankfully I've been able to build a friendship with him and it's very easygoing. We are out there playing like another day trying to win and make as many points and birdies out there, and we just found a little groove.”
Johnson said Morikawa is no rookie. “Even though it's his first Ryder Cup, obviously he doesn't play like (it),” Johnson said.
Morikawa and Johnson won holes No. 1, 6, 7, 11 and 12 before capturing No 16 to clinch with a three-stroke lead and only two to play. Casey and Hovland won the third, fourth and 13th holes and the teams halved the others.
On No. 10, Morikawa hit an impressive "flop shot" from well below the green into position for Johnson to convert a par putt, allowing the Americans to preserve their lead.
Earlier, he showed why he was assigned tee shots on the par-3 holes. His 214-yard drive on the par-3 seventh to within 22 feet helped the Americans complete a rally from a 1-point deficit to a 1-point lead over a span of two holes.
Morikawa, the winner of two majors already including the British Open this summer, is playing in his first Ryder Cup. He landed one of six automatic spots on the American roster by virtue of his No. 3 world ranking.
But he had struggled in the weeks after the Olympics and finished 26th out of 30 golfers at the season-ending Tour Championship. Morikawa said for several weeks that his back was feeling better but that he had fouled up his swing while compensating.
After a few weeks off leading to this event, Morikawa expressed confidence that his game was right again. Friday was good evidence of that.
The Americans actually lost the No. 1 matchup as the European duo of Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia posted a 3 and 1 win over Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas.
Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger beat the European team of Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick 2-1 and Americans Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele scored a dominant 5 and 3 win over Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy to close the morning session.
"From when we walked on the first tee today and finished this afternoon, the crowds have been amazing," said Johnson, 37, the No. 2-ranked player in the world and the oldest player on the American team. "The fans have been great, and they have been pretty respectful, too, for both sides. It's been so much fun. Obviously, the fans make this event."
Cover photo of Collin Morikawa by Kyle Terada, USA Today
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo