The Americans edged out the Rest of the World team in Fridays six foursomes (alternate shot) matches on the Seaside Course at Sea Island Golf Club.
They will compete in six four-ball (better ball) matches on Day 2, and 12 singles matches on Sunday. It takes 12 points to win the Cup, though the U.S., who won last year, can retain the title with a 12-12 tie.
Day 2 four-ball pairings
Friday, RoW playing captain Gary Player teamed with Nick Faldo to defeat U.S. playing captain Arnold Palmer and Curtis Strange, 1-up.
Palmer and Strange overcame a 3-down deficit through four holes to take a 1-up lead after Strange made a 25-foot birdie at the 10th.
The pair of Wake Forest Demon Deacons lost the 11th with a bogey, and should have fallen 1-down after another bogey at 12; however, Faldo missed a five-footer for par and halved the hole.
The matched remained all square entering the par-4 18th, where Strange pulled a 3-wood approach shot from the first cut of rough into the lake left of the green. Player and Faldo were conceded par after the elder South African nearly holed his bunker shot.
The match could have gone either way, said Player. Because there were so many other matches that were level, that was a very important match for us to win.
At the time of the conclusion of the first match, three others were deadlocked.
Paul Azinger and Scott Hoch finished tied with Bernhard Langer and Eduardo Romero. The Americans had several opportunities to win their match, but were thwarted by great recoveries from the RoW team.
Langer made a 20-footer for par at the 13th to stay 1-up. After losing 14, Romero then made a 25-footer to save par from a sand dune at 15.
Azinger had a 15-footer for birdie to win the 15th and go 1-up, but missed. He atoned with a lengthy birdie at 17, but was matched by a 12-footer from Langer. Both teams parred the last.
I think they were very lucky, they made two really long putts for par, said Azinger.
Added Hoch, Bernies getting inducted into the Hall of Fame tonight. We didnt want to put a sour note on his day.
Langer, who will travel to St. Augustine, Fla., for the Hall of Fame ceremonies Friday evening, said the ending was fitting.
We played well early on, and then I hit a couple of loose shots and made a couple of bogeys. But we made some good putts under pressure on the back side, Langer said. It was probably deserved to be an even match.
The Japanese combination of Isao Aoki and Seiji Ebihara gave the RoW its second full point with a 3-and-1 win over Fred Funk and Bob Gilder.
Likewise, Hale Irwin and Tom Kite, Nos. 1 and 4 on this years Champions Tour money list, easily handled Australians Stewart Ginn and Rodger Davis, 3-and-2.
Tom Lehman and Raymond Floyd then squared the overall score, 2 - 2 , with a 1-up win over European Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance and his vice-captain, Ian Woosnam.
Lehman and Floyd were 2-down through seven holes, but took a 1-up lead after the 11th. They secured victory by making a three-footer for par at 17.
Major winners Tom Watson and Mark OMeara concluded the day with a 2-up win over lesser knowns Denis Durnian and Barry Lane.
We were given a few gifts by the other team, said Watson. We were fortunate to win.