Fans create electric atmosphere to launch Ryder Cup

Kohler (United States) (AFP) –


Thousands of singing and chanting spectators created an electric atmosphere at the first tee to start the 43rd Ryder Cup on a cool Friday morning at Whistling Straits.

After Covid-19 postponed the event for a year so spectators could attend, golf fans cheered on the United States and Europe as the biennial team golf showdown began with foursomes matches.

"It's unbelievable," US captain Steve Stricker said. "It's what we've been waiting for, right? Three years since the last Ryder Cup."

A raucous and predominantly US-backing crowd cheered the American side -- supporters clad in the traditional red, white and blue garb -- and booed the Europeans, who smiled and waved to the cat calls.

"They are going to embrace the crowds," Harrington said of his team. "We love it. We'd rather than 40,000 US fans and no European fans than no fans at all."

There were some European backers in the crowd, sporting the blue and gold colors of the European side.

Spain's Sergio Garcia, partnered with top-ranked countryman Jon Rahm, hit the first tee shot into a bunker left of the first fairway.

American Justin Thomas, partnering with three-time major winner Jordan Spieth, followed and drove the ball into the heart of the fairway.

Rahm fired out of the bunker to the back fringe and the teams ended up tying the opening hole with pars.

The action unfolded barely half an hour after the sun chased off a Harvest Moon and rose over Lake Michigan, where the course welcomed holders Europe, trying for a 10th win in the past 13 meetings, while the Americans try to end a run of four Europe wins in the past five events.