Wow. I’ve just come back from the first tee where Neil and I stood in the stand and cheered every player in the first four matches. I can honestly say it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Strolling back to the Media Centre, Neil and I were pretty much silent save for the occasional utterance of, “Oh my god.”
The pressure cauldron of that first tee is difficult to describe. When the players approached the roar that went up was amazing. Even cheering as loud as possible, you still couldn’t hear your voice. And the great thing was, it was clear the players were absolutely loving every moment of it. Ian Poulter gave a little nod and smile to the crowd that conveyed the feeling, “Yes, this is pretty cool isn’t it.”
Then, as each of the players prepared to take their shots, the cheers ceased and the silence was deafening. It was awesome that the focus of so many people was directed towards one person. And each of the guys who drove – Harrington, Mickelson, Leonard, Casey, Campbell, Rose, Furyk and Westwood – dealt with it superbly. To stand up with that level of scrutiny upon you and to boost a drive away down the fairway displays just what talented and poised sportspeople they are. I am feeling very impressed. If it had been me in that situation I think I would have just wanted to curl up into the foetal position and cover my ears until everybody went away.
Special credit must go to Padraig Harrington who hit the first tee-shot of the competition when levels of expectation were at their highest. He fired one long and straight down the middle of the fairway – then converted Karlsson’s excellent approach for a birdie three that took Europe into the lead after the very first hole of the match.
Until this point I’ve found it difficult to believe I’m actually at the Ryder Cup, but after that experience reality has hit home – I am here and it’s game on!
ps. I’m in this photo – the last man on the right hand side, three rows up.