Impressive Opening Ceremony sets proper tone
By T.J. Auclair, PGA.com Interactive Producer
MEDINAH, Ill. – The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club is officially set to begin.
The match-ups for Friday morning’s foursomes matches were revealed during the Opening Ceremony before tens of thousands of fans on Thursday afternoon by U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love III and his European counterpart, Jose Maria Olazabal.
Here’s a look at the matches:
7:20 a.m. CT: Rory McIlroy/Graeme McDowell (EUR) vs. Jim Furyk/Brandt Snedeker (USA)
7:35 a.m.: Luke Donald/Sergio Garcia (EUR) vs. Phil Mickelson/Keegan Bradley (USA)
7:50 a.m.: Lee Westwood/Francesco Molinari (EUR) vs. Jason Dufner/Zach Johnson (USA)
8:05 a.m.: Ian Poulter/Justin Rose (EUR) vs. Steve Stricker/Tiger Woods (USA)
U.S. swimming champion Michael Phelps, an 18-time Olympic gold medalist, kicked off the ceremonies by welcoming the fans and introducing emcee Justin Timberlake.
Timberlake recited a poem called “Golf” to get things started, and that was followed by a performance American Idol Season 11 third-place finisher Joshua Ledet and the Chicago Children’s Choir.
NBC’s Dan Hicks pitched in to help Timberlake with program-hosting duties and explained that the 39th Ryder Cup “will be seen in 183 countries and half a billion homes.”
There was a touching moment during the speeches with a tribute to European Ryder Cup hero, the late Seve Ballesteros. Olazabal dedicated a portion of his speech to Ballesteros as well.
Olazabal lightened the mood just before the introduction of his team, stressing to the fans that while this will be a friendly competition, his European team has every intention of retaining the Ryder Cup.
That drew some expected boos from the pro-U.S. audience, but Olazabal quickly settled them down as he smiled.
Love opened his captain’s speech by saying, “It is the honor of my life to welcome you to the 39th playing of the Ryder Cup.”
Love then looked over to Olazabal and said, “We start these matches under an ode of friendship, and we will end them the same way.”
Before the Opening Ceremony ended, the European and U.S. flags were raised over Medinah Country Club. Jordin Sparks, a former American Idol winner, performed the National Anthem.
With the pomp and circumstance in the books, the matches are ready to begin.