Then the Europeans stormed back and reversed the score, taking a 3-1 lead after Friday's foursomes matches.
Annika Sorenstam and Suzann Pettersen won five consecutive holes to erase a 4-down deficit and post a 1-up victory over the American tandem of Laura Diaz and Michele Redman.
Another U.S. team that squandered a huge lead was Pat Hurst and Christina Kim. They were 3-up, but the European pairing of Sophie Gustafson and Trish Johnson clawed back and earned a halve.
Paula Creamer and Beth Daniel, the youngest and oldest participants in the Solheim Cup, wasted a 2-up advantage and halved their match with Europeans Catriona Matthew and Carin Koch.
The only match Europe dominated from the beginning was Laura Davies and Maria Hjorth against Cristie Kerr and Natalie Gulbis. The European side jumped out to a 3-up lead through six, but the Americans made it interesting late in the match. In the end, Europe walked off with a 2-and-1 win.
Diaz and Redman were 4-up after a win at the 12th hole, but Sorenstam got her team going with an amazing tee shot at the par-3 13th. She lipped out a 9-iron and was conceded birdie, which ended up winning the hole.
From there, the Europeans won the 14th with par despite Sorenstam knocking the team's second over the green. The No. 1 player in the world then chipped the team's third shot to 10 feet at the 15th, and Pettersen drained the birdie putt to draw within 1-down.
At the 16th, Sorenstam hit an approach 4 feet over the hole, while the Americans made a mess of the par-4. Redman drove into a fairway bunker, then Diaz hit their second in a trap near a green. Pettersen rolled in the birdie putt and now the match was all-square with two to play.
Sorenstam hit her tee ball to 35 feet at the par-3 17th, but it did not matter as Pettersen sank the long birdie try. Redman missed from 5 feet closer and now Europe was 1-up with one to go.
The two halved the 18th to give Europe the full point.
'We did what we had to do,' said Pettersen, who holed a long putt to win a fourball match with Sorenstam against Diaz on Saturday afternoon in 2003. 'Annika hit a super shot on 17 and it just happens.'
Hurst, last week's State Farm Classic winner, and Kim won the sixth and seventh to go 2-up. Hurst ran home a 15-footer for birdie at the 10th to extend the lead, but Europe benefited from American mistakes down the stretch.
Kim missed a 5-footer for par and the halve at 16, then missed from a shorter distance one hole later. The U.S. was 1-up until Johnson holed an 18-footer for birdie at the 17th to knot the match.
Neither Hurst nor Johnson found the fairway off the tee at 18, but Gustafson landed their approach 40 feet long. Kim ran through the green, but Hurst lagged her birdie try to 2 feet, a foot longer than Johnson's putt. Kim sank the putt and the Europeans' putt was conceded, so it was another halve.
'We've got to learn to close the door,' admitted Hurst. 'We played well, they played well and we had fun out there.'
In the opening match, the Americans won the seventh and eighth holes to move 2-up. The Europeans got within 1-down at the 15th when Matthew knocked the third shot inside a foot to set up a conceded birdie. Creamer tried to halve the hole, but her 20-footer from the fringe lipped out of the hole.
The European side squared the match at 17 when Daniel, one of Nancy Lopez's captain's picks, missed a 4-footer for par. At the 18th, Daniel hit the team's second into the front bunker, while Matthew knocked the Europeans' approach 30 feet right of the hole.
Creamer blasted out to 4 feet, the exact length of putt that Daniel missed one hole earlier. Koch ran her birdie try 3 feet past. Daniel converted the par save, as did Matthew, and the sides walked off with a halve.
'I feel like we played really well. We gave ourselves so many opportunities,' said Daniel. 'We shot 2 under par today. It was just a really good match.'
Kerr and Gulbis struggled out of the gate on Friday as Gulbis, one of three rookies on the American side, missed a 3-footer that could have won the second hole. The Europeans moved 3-up through six holes, then the teams traded wins until Davies and Hjorth were 4-up with four to go.
The Americans won No. 15, then when Davies drove well left of the fairway at 16, the U.S. team found itself 2-down. The teams halved 17 with par to end the match.
Friday afternoon will feature four fourball matches. Americans Rosie Jones and Meg Mallon come off the bench to face Hjorth and Iben Tinning. Kerr and Gulbis are back to meet Gustafson and Karen Stupples, Hurst and Wendy Ward are facing Sorenstam and Matthew, then Juli Inkster plays for the first time with Creamer against Davies and Pettersen.