A crowd estimated at 45,000 fans enjoyed the perfect weather for the Opening Ceremonies at Celtic Manor on Thursday. (Getty Images)
Opening ceremonies set proper tone for the three big days of golf to follow
The weather cooperated perfectly for the Opening Ceremonies on Thursday afternoon, as the teams were introduced to a massive gallery in a spectacular Wales-centric presentation.
By T.J. Auclair, PGA.com Interactive Producer
NEWPORT, Wales – Under beautiful mostly sunny skies with temperatures in the 60s, the opening ceremony for the 38th Ryder Cup took place adjacent to the 18th green of the Twenty Ten Course at the Celtic Manor Resort on Thursday afternoon.
Roughly 45,000 spectators splashed the Celtic Manor terrain to find a view of the massive opening ceremony stage in a scene resembling Woodstock (or, as European fans might better relate to, Glastonbury) -- with a much tamer crowd, of course.
The fans eagerly waited until the end of the ceremony, when U.S. Captain Corey Pavin and European Captain Colin Montgomerie announced their much-anticipated pairings for Friday morning’s opening fourball session.
In the first match of the 38th Ryder Cup, Americans Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson will face Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer. In the second match, the U.S. will send out Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar to square off against the Northern Irish pair of Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell. The third pairing for the U.S. will consist of Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods. They’ll go up against Ian Poulter and Ross Fisher. In the final match of the morning fourball session, the U.S. will send out rookies Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton to face Luke Donald and Padraig Harrington.
Di Stewart, host of Golf Night on Sky Sports and more well-known in the U.S. for her appearances in Titleist golf ball commercial spots alongside Scott Van Pelt, served as mistress of ceremonies.
After a montage of past Ryder Cups, First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones welcomed both teams and fans to his country. Shortly after, Pavin and Montgomerie led their teams to the stage.
The spectacular presentation, with a heavy Welsh theme, greeted fans with performances from the likes of, “Only Men Aloud!” a 15-man choir from Cardiff and winners of the 2008 BBC talent show, “The Last Choir Standing,” as well as a beautiful, tear-inducing rendition of Sarah McLachlan’s hit song, “Angel,” by Welsh mezzo-soprano superstar Katherine Jenkins.
Jim Remy, President of the PGA of America, addressed the fans, expressing his excitement in being a part of the first Ryder Cup in Wales, while wishing both teams the best of luck.
Woods received the biggest applause on the U.S. side when Pavin introduced his team. Cink was a close second, but only because Pavin initially forgot to introduce the 2009 Open Champion, leading to mass laughter from the spectators and the players.
Pavin corrected himself and asked for “a special round of applause” for Cink, who played it up and took a bow before the playing of the U.S. National Anthem.
Montgomerie, veteran of eight European Ryder Cup teams and a player who has never lost in the singles competition, humbly expressed to the crowd that, “This is without question the proudest moment of my golfing career.”
Monty also reminded everyone, “No matter the result, the true winner will always be the game of golf itself.”
The first tee time for the Ryder Cup will go off at 7:45 a.m. local time Friday. The U.S. won the Ryder Cup back from the Europeans in 2008 at Valhalla for the first time since 1999 and is looking snap a streak of 17 years without a win on foreign soil. The last time the U.S. turned the trick was in 1993 at The Belfry in Sutton Coldfield, England.