Spectacular gala evening shows best of Chicago

Justin Timberlake weclomes Davis Love III and José María Olazábal

Spectacular gala evening shows best of Chicago

Excitement builds with the Gala extravaganza ahead of what is surely set to be a Showpiece in Chicago

Black ties, sharp suits, stunning dresses, stars of stage, screen and sport, a brass-tinged 1980s rock band, thousands of happy punters and 24 world-class golfers. This could only be one thing: The 2012 Ryder Cup Gala Dinner and Concert.

With just 36 hours to go until the first tee shots were set to be struck in the 39th edition of the biennial contest, the European and American Teams – plus their respective wives and girlfriends – were treated to a spectacular evening of glitz and glamour in Chicago’s Rosemont district on Wednesday night with a formal black tie dinner followed by a special concert at the Akoo Theatre, an extravaganza that truly showed the very best of this year’s host city.

After a three-course dinner nearby, the players, Captains and guests of the PGA of America made the short journey to the Akoo for the second portion of the evening’s entertainment as American film and television personality Justin Timberlake – who himself played in the inaugural Ex-Captains and Celebrity Scramble on Tuesday afternoon at Medinah – compered proceedings with aplomb.

During a ‘Blues Brothers’ musical introduction, famous faces from the Windy City’s wide ranging popular culture entered intermittently as sports and Olympic stars all signed off with the slogan, “Chicago – you’re my kind of town.”

Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel then took great pleasure in welcoming the assembled teams, dignitaries, media and fans packing the Illinois venue to his metropolis, joking that the mild temperatures that the Midwest city is currently experiencing are a constant throughout the calendar year.

Timberlake then introduced comedy musical troupe ‘The Second City’ who performed a humorous skit of European vs. US sentiments before Latino comedian George Lopez had the audience in stitches with his routine.

One of the most popular and well-known bands of the 1970s and 1980s, and still going strong in 2012, locally-based rock outfit ‘Chicago’ then played a storming set that had the crowd on its feet ahead of the undoubted highlight of the evening’s festivities.

Each player from the two sides was then individually introduced to the stage, along with their respective partners, to a rapturous reception as sporadic chants of “U-S-A” gave inkling to the sort of atmosphere that can be expected on the first tee on Friday morning. There were excellent receptions for many of the European Team, too, with Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy perhaps garnering some of the loudest cheers of the night as Timberlake led the Captains and their squads through a short on-stage Q&A session to conclude the evening’s celebrations.

In a town renowned for its razzmatazz, sporting zeal, theatre and entertainment, it was a fitting precursor to the main event this weekend as excitement build ahead of what is surely set to be a Showpiece in Chicago.