Home is where the heart is.
Padraig Harrington’s embattled and besieged Europe did well to restrict their beating to only 6-2 on the opening day of the 43rd Ryder Cup in Wisconsin against a US dream team performing with fire, heart and soul to match all and more of the ability on paper that sees eight of their side hover inside the world’s top 10.
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The United States lived up to their lofty billing as 8/15 favourites to reclaim golf's biggest team prize with a rousing display on Friday that harked back to the days when GB and Ireland were ritually walloped before Europe added sturdy reinforcements in 1979.
This was a trip down memory lane to a time when victorious figures like Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Billy Casper used this competition as an exhibition bout decades ago.
Watched by US basketball giants Michael Jordan, Steph Curry and another 40,000 whooping and hollering American golf diehards, the US revelled in a 3-1 win in the morning foursomes before a 3-1 triumph in the afternoon fourballs.
It was a nightmarish few hours for Europe on a course made for big hitters and even bigger movers and shakers. All of whom appeared to be adorned in Stars and Stripes shoes.
"Our ball striking was good, we just didn't hole the putts," said Harrington.
It was a tough day. We've only just played for about 25% at this stage. It isn't a good start, but there's still another 20 points to play for.
Sergio Garcia equalled Nick Faldo's Ryder Cup record of winning 23 matches on an otherwise bleak day for the holders.
World number one Jon Rahm produced some trademark resistance alongside his fellow Spaniard Garcia with a 3&1 win over Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas in the opening match of the day before others found themselves in dire straits on hardy course designer Pete Dye's sand-infested track.
Spieth ended up the only US player who failed to score as the home team made a mockery of supposed inexperience, but the rejuvenated three-times major winner played the shot of the day when he chipped out of deep rough on the 17th hole to a few feet before narrowly avoiding a trip into the water as he turned to scamper down a sharp hill beside the green.
That inspired effort was symbolic of a gusto and character oddly lacking in the European side as momentum proved more elusive than McIlroy optimism.
"We can come back from 6-2,” he said. "If it’s 6-2, we can come back." Harrington needs deeds to match words. As always, talk is cheap in such an epic golfing gunfight.
US rookies Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele drubbed veteran European double act Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter 5&3, Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger were never behind in a 2&1 triumph over Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick with the potent Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa comfortable in 3&2 victory against Paul Casey and Viktor Hovland.
On the shores of Lake Michigan, Europe continued to plumb the depths in the afternoon as the imposing shot-making of Tony Finau and Harris English careered to a 4&3 win over McIlroy and Shane Lowry for a 4-1 lead.
That became 5-1 when Johnson and Schauffele eased home 2&1 against Casey and Bernd Wiesberger.
A brave 10-foot putt on the 18th from Tyrrell Hatton alongside Rahm saw Europe salvage a half against Bryson DeChambeau and Scottie Scheffler with Tommy Fleetwood and Hovland managing to eke out another half having earlier led Thomas and Cantlay.
Expectation had quickly faded to damage limitation as Europe's thrashing came into sharp focus.
When America triumphed 17-11 in 2016, 16.5-11.5 in 2008, 18.5-9.5 in 1981 and 17-11 in 1979 respectively, they were never as far ahead as 6-2 after the opening day.
Another set of foursomes and fourballs like this on Friday will see Team America move to the cusp of victory before the final day singles is concluded on Sunday evening with 14.5 required for gold.
Strictly speaking under straight-talking captain Steve Stricker, whose pragmatic and sensible approach to captaincy is sprinkled with a deep knowledge of his team chemistry and dynamics, America could not have been more dominant on the opening day.
Europe are whistling Dixie if they think they can conquer the USA at Whistling Straits unless a few more Europeans join the magnificent Rahm in digging a tunnel back into the light.
It already feels like a long way back from here.
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