A mass of bodies – hundreds wide and thousands deep –breaking away at speed. It looked more like the start of a city marathon than fans heading into a golf tournament, but such is the Ryder Cup’s unique brand of appeal.
Fans from both sides of the Atlantic have come in their droves, bringing noise and color to the 44th edition of the event at Marco Simone Golf Club in Rome, Italy. Many queued through the early hours Friday to ensure themselves the best possible views of the drama.
The opening of gates at 6:30 a.m. local time was greeted by whoops and cheers as fans charged into the course grounds, footage posted to X– the social media platform formerly known as Twitter– by organizers showed, with roughly 150,000 spectators expected to pass through come Sunday, according to Reuters.
The race to the first tee.#RyderCup pic.twitter.com/QRo3t7UDdb
It meant the first tee grandstand was filled long before Spain’s Jon Rahm struck the opening shot of the tournament, generating maximum noise by fans for a rendition of Team Europe’s beloved routine– the thunderclap
Popularized by the Iceland men’s soccer team at the UEFA European Football Championships in 2016, the shout-clap-repeat chorus was led expertly by European vice-captain Nicolas Colsaerts.
A victorious member of the 2012 European team, the Belgian was responsible for whipping up the crowd throughout the day– his job made easier by Team Europe surging into a commanding 4-0 lead in the morning foursomes sessions.
1st tee thunderclap🙌🇪🇺#TeamEurope|#RyderCup pic.twitter.com/qMsnq426eR
“The crowds were unbelievable here today,” said Ludvig Aberg, the Swedish rookie who was paired with Viktor Hovland to brush aside Max Homa and Brian Harman.
“We could really feel that support and that’s what we need to keep winning points.”
Ryder Cup:‘Fleetwood Mac’ helps Europe soar to start of dreams, rocking US with opening sweep
Even the seemingly unflappable Rahm was moved by the noise. After easing past world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns alongside England’s Tyrrell Hatton, the Masters champion admitted to having butterflies long before tee off.
“The feelings you have down the stretch in a tournament, I had hitting my first warm-up putt at 6:20 a.m. in the morning in the dark,” Rahm said.
“It increasingly got higher until we hit that tee shot on the first hole. It’s a different feeling, but if you embrace and enjoy it, you can play some pretty good rounds of golf like we did today.”
Naturally, outlandish fancy dress was par for the course among the grandstands. A healthy American contingent made their presence felt with swathes of stars and stripes patterns, an eagle, the statue of liberty, and even a band of Evel Knievels.
From Ireland to Sweden, Europe’s full roster was well-represented by flags from across the continent, with plenty of nods to the host in the form of Colosseum gladiators, while a group in wigs and vests paid homage to Rahm’s“Rambo” nickname.
And while, for the first time since 1997, there will be no Michael Jordan behind the ropes at a Ryder Cup this week, the presence of Novak Djokovic, Gareth Bale, and Carlos Sainz ensured a star-studded viewership remained.
The trio were all in action at the All Star match on Thursday, with Djokovic and Bale’s team triumphing over the Ferrari driver’s side.