Both pairings struggled for birdies early on with the match all-square through seven holes, but the Americans reeled off five birdies in eight holes to storm into a three-up lead.
Dane Olesen struck his first Ryder Cup tee shot into the water, but spent much of the match carrying four-time major winner McIlroy, who was out of form, failing to make a single birdie or win a hole.
McIlroy and Olesen both missed lengthy birdie tries on the 16th hole to end the match with a whimper.
Jim Furyk’s US outfit are bidding to retain the trophy and win the matchplay event on European soil for the first time in 25 years at Le Golf National.
“We get along very well, our demeanours are very similar on the golf course,” said world number one Johnson of his partnership with Fowler.
“We’ve practised a lot together, whether it’s been here or back at home.”
The teams to have won the first point of the competition have gone on to lift the trophy in 79 percent of Ryder Cups held since 1975. DM
"I would rather have questions that can't be answered than answers that can't be questioned." ~ Richard Feynman