Sep 24, 2021 1 min, 27 secs
The United States took the lead in front of eager home support but thankfully cries of ‘mashed potatoes’ stayed at home.

Nearly 50,000 mostly star-spangled spectators descended on Kohler on Friday morning, the quiet Wisconsin hamlet of 2,100 souls along the Sheboygan River that has become the focal point of the sporting world as the United States attempt to regain the Ryder Cup.

Flag-waving jingoism will always be a part of team competitions like the Ryder Cup where the bar of etiquette has traditionally been relaxed and there was no shortage of lusty boos reserved for Team Europe.

The early lead, while of no grave concern to a European team that hasn’t led after the opening session in 15 years, created a bustling energy across the grounds as the spectators attended to business ahead of the afternoon fourballs.

Johnson, who paired with Schauffele against Paul Casey and Bernd Wiesberger in the lead match, elicited one of the biggest reactions of the afternoon when he rolled in a 12-foot putt on the 11th to give the US total control of the tie – the type of spine-tingling moment that turned even NBA icon and Ryder Cup regular Michael Jordan into a fist-pumping fanboy as he looked on from the gallery.

The essential nature of the fans to the Ryder Cup experience is perhaps the biggest reason why the PGA of America, which organizes the event in the United States, did not attempt to stage it last year even after it held a US PGA Championship at Harding Park without spectators.

By the time Thomas and Cantlay closed out play opposite Tommy Fleetwood and Hovland late Friday afternoon, ensuring the Americans’ largest lead through day one in 46 years, the decision was validated beyond any doubt.

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