The Americans, who boast an average world ranking of nine compared to 30 for Europe, were favoured in the biennial event but few expected the largely inexperienced side to grab their largest day-one lead since earning a five-point cushion in 1975.

By winning both sessions 3-1 on Friday, Steve Stricker's men are nearly halfway to the 14-1/2 points needed to reclaim the Ryder Cup, but Europe are not about to hand over the gold trophy.

Sergio Garcia, who went out in the day's first group with fellow Spaniard Jon Rahm, equalled Nick Faldo's record for Ryder Cup match wins with 23, but that was the only highlight on what proved to be a rough day for the European side.

"We can come back from 6-2," said Rory McIlroy, who lost both his matches and won't appear as part of the foursomes matches on Saturday.

McIlroy was on the wrong end of two heavy losses on Friday at Whistling Straits. PHOTO: Warren Little/Getty Images.

After a near-perfect morning for the U.S., the hosts padded their lead when Ryder Cup rookie Harris English and Tony Finau beat McIlroy and Shane Lowry 4&3. Moments later Dustin Johnson and Xander Schauffele secured a 2&1 win over Bernd Wiesberger and Paul Casey.

Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton birdied their final hole to halve their match with Bryson DeChambeau and Scottie Scheffler, one of six rookies on the 12-man U.S. squad.

Viktor Hovland and Tommy Fleetwood were in control of the day's final match heading into the turn but an eagle at the 16th by Justin Thomas, who was playing with Patrick Cantlay, capped a solid run by the Americans who went on to halve the clash.

Playing in front of a home crowd lacking much in the way of European support due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, the hot start by the U.S. included impressive performances from Ryder Cup rookies Cantlay and Schauffele.

The duo won their first five holes during a commanding 5&3 defeat over McIlroy and Ian Poulter in the anchor match of the foursomes session to give the hosts a 3-1 lead.

"Making birdie on the first, dream start," said reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year Cantlay.

"A start like that, I'm really glad we kept our nerve and kept our foot down and really pleased them out early."

History is surely on the Americans' side as they have never lost a Ryder Cup at home when winning the first session 3-1 or better. In fact, they are 11-0 under that scenario.

The visitors put the first point on the board as Garcia and Rahm enjoyed a 3&1 win over Jordan Spieth and Thomas.

Spieth, in a desperate bid to keep alive the match, made the shot of the day out of the rough from an extreme slope that left the ball about eight feet from the cup but also saw the American nearly end up in chilly Lake Michigan.

In the second match Johnson and Open champion Collin Morikawa beat Casey and rookie Hovland with a birdie at the par-five 16th for a 3&2 victory.

Brooks Koepka and American debutant Daniel Berger, in the penultimate match of the morning session, proved too solid for Europe's Ryder Cup stalwart Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick, claiming a 2&1 win.

Play resumes on Saturday with foursomes again followed by afternoon fourballs.

Saturday foursomes:

Match one: Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger vs Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia

Match two: Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa vs Paul Casey and Tyrell Hatton

Match three: Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth vs Victor Hovland and Bernd Wiesberger

Match four: Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay vs Lee Westwood and Matthew Fitzpatrick.