Watching Poulter tries to stoke up the atmosphere as Ryder Cup gets under way

Watching Poulter tries to stoke up the atmosphere as Ryder Cup gets under way

So when it comes to the first tee at the Ryder Cup, bigger is not necessarily better.

A talking point all week in the build-up to some actual golf thankfully getting under way, the grandstand at Le Golf National was the biggest ever seen in the biennial contest, with 6,900 seats behind the first tee and adjacent 18th green.

But compared to the more compact structures at Gleneagles or Hazeltine it made for a strangely subdued atmosphere, despite the best efforts of Ian Poulter – surprisingly left out of the opening session – to drum up some enthusiasm.

Poulter quickly swapped the first tee for the back row of the grandstand to pose for pictures with fans, although sadly not the five who had made the most of the European colours of blue and yellow by dressing up as Bananaman.

It took a few attempts to get the timing right on the ‘thunderclap’ made popular by Iceland’s football fans during the 2016 European Championships, while most of the noise came from a small pocket of fans closest to the tee as the opening match inched closer.

However, even though the atmosphere may not have been everything that was expected, that did not stop the nerves taking their toll as rookies and major champions alike experienced just what the pressure of playing for a team rather than yourself can do.

Rookie and wild card Tony Finau was handed the honour – or burden depending on your point of view – of hitting the very first shot and struck an adrenalin-fuelled three iron almost 300 yards, his ball stopping inches short of the water to the left of the fairway.

In match two, European rookie Thorbjorn Olesen was not so fortunate as his pulled tee shot found a watery grave, while ‘Captain America’ himself, Masters champion Patrick Reed, posed for the cameras after hitting his approach – only to see it plummet into the water.

As might have been expected, the man who birdied the 72nd hole of the Tour Championship on Sunday to win £7.6million had proved immune to the pressure, Justin Rose splitting the fairway and producing a superb approach to set up a tap-in birdie in match one.

And with that the contest was properly under way.

– Advertisement –
– Advertisement –