Friday, September 28, 2012

On the first tee at the Ryder Cup

   It was chilly enough to see your breath this morning on the first tee at Medinah but with the Ryder Cup starting, it was the hottest place in golf.
  Framed by steep, overstuffed grandstands, the Ryder Cup began as only it can -- with photo ops, singing and nerves.
   Before the first players had arrived at the tee, American fans were singing 'America, the Beautiful' and European fans were answering with 'Ole, Ole, Ole.' Shortly before Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker made the walk over from the practice putting green, a worker was tossing American flags to fans. It was too early to say whether the fact many of the flags were accidentally dropped on the ground was a good or bad omen for the home side.
   When it came time for Graeme McDowell to hit the opening tee shot, the place went dead silent but for the distant whistle of a train. Then the noise returned.
   When Ryder Cup rookie Keegan Bradley ripped his tee shot down the middle, he waited a beat for teammate Phil Mickelson to catch up to him and they slapped hands.
   Before the final match began, Michael Jordan arrived on the tee, shaking hands, posing for pictures and being Michael Jordan in Chicago.
   Europe's Ian Poulter arrived at the tee with black and lime-colored shoes to match the team outfit for the day. After hitting his tee shot on the opening hole, Poulter snatched his tee from the ground like a theatrical rip.
   Tiger Woods followed with a big hook that left his partner, Steve Stricker, in trouble. 
   It was just past 8 a.m. on a cool fall morning in Chicago. A beautiful start.