With packed stands and thousands lining the first hole from tee to green, Justin Rose got the 2016 Ryder Cup under way with a nerveless opening drive as Europe’s bid for a record fourth successive victory over the United States began.
Chants of “USA, USA” and “We believe that we will win” reverberated around the first tee from the home fans at Hazeltine while pockets of European fans countered with their own chants, notably the Will Griggs-themed song of “Europe’s on fire, America is terrified”, to inspire Team Europe amid misty conditions around Hazeltine.
As the captains and vice captains of both teams gathered the decibels rose until finally the gladiators entered the arena, Olympic gold medallist Rose and Open Champion Henrik Stenson the first to arrive before their opponents Jordan Speith and Patrick Reed stepped onto the tee.
After winning all three of their matches together at Gleneagles two years ago, it was no surprise that Rose and Stenson were sent out first for the second Ryder Cup in succession.
A video tribute to the late Arnold Palmer, whose golf bag from when he was Ryder Cup captain in 1975 was placed on the tee box, briefly interrupted the music and chants from the packed grandstands and then as the crowd fell silent Rose stepped forth, a smooth swing sending the ball away into the mist and finding the right side of the fairway. Reed matched him and away they strode, the 41st Ryder Cup had begun.