Crowd first tee
The crowd were in high spirits on the opening morning (Getty Images)

Electric atmosphere on the first tee

There were thousands within a few metres and millions watching on the television and the atmosphere on the first tee at The 2010 Ryder Cup was absolutely electric.

Sarah Gwynn, European Tour Editorial Staff

Despite the lashing rain, the chants and cheers of the fans in the gallery and huddled under umbrellas around the tee rang through the gloom, making the hairs on the back of the neck stand up on end.

Ian Poulter pumped a fist towards the crowd, Harrington grinned, Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy looked as relaxed as they would going out for a friendly round at Royal Portrush back in their native Northern Ireland. And Captain Colin Montgomerie paced around nervously, but looking every bit Europe’s leader.

The noise as Westwood and Martin Kaymer approached the tee shortly before 7.45am was unbelievable. The fans were stamping their feet in the grandstand, a chorus of olé, olé,olé could surely be heard over the Severn Bridge in England and the waiting was nearly over.

Dustin Johnson had the nerve-wrecking task of hitting the first shot at The Celtic Manor Resort; perhaps it was the tension, maybe it was the relentless rain, but the American pushed it out to the right, sending the crowd scampering. Mickelson was up next, playing in his eighth Ryder Cup, calmly spanked it down the middle, and then Westwood stepped on to the tee to rapturous applause and deafening cheering. Europe’s Number One did not mess about, smashing it straight up the fairway, and Kaymer followed him, the German displaying a similar nerveless efficiency to his countryman Bernhard Langer.

The noise did not abate for McIlroy and McDowell, up against Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar, and it only increased when the American pair both found a bunker, McDowell landed it on the fairway and McIlroy, a 21 year old Ryder Cup rookie, was just in the light rough.

Poulter could not have looked more pumped as he marched up to the tee, high-fiving Ross Fisher as they followed their fearsome opponents Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker. Woods looked serene, and looked relieved to hear the crowd applaud when his name was announced, but his drive followed Stricker’s into the rough on the left.

Poulter also snapped his tee shot left, but Fisher was showing no signs of nerves on his Ryder Cup debut, just pulling his shot slightly left.

The rain got harder but the cheering got louder as Luke Donald and Padraig Harrington approached. They even cheered Harrington’s practice swing and Donald, like every other player, acknowledged a chant of ‘there’s only one Luke Donald’. Every other player, that is except for brothers Francesco and Edoardo Molinari, who received a chorus of ‘there’s only two Molinaris’.

The rookie pairing of Jeff Overton and Bubba Watson in the final group was a surprise for some, but both are known for their distance off the tee. Overton did not disappoint, finding the middle of the fairway, Watson went left, Donald was straight and Harrington was another drifting left.

With the hopes of a continent resting on every player’s shoulders and in the almost unplayable deluge, the Team Captains would have been relieved just to see every group get off the tee.

©2003-2012 The PGA of America / Ryder Cup limited / Turner Sports Interactive. All rights reserved.
Turner Entertainment Digital Network RYDERCUP.com is part of Turner Sports Digital, part of the Turner Sports & Entertainment Digital Network.