Ryder Cup: Fans bring energy and color to golf's rock concert

The bass boomed out of the dark. Lines of shadowy figures swarmed towards it like an advancing orc army. The...

Posted: Oct 1, 2018 8:54 AM
Updated: Oct 1, 2018 8:54 AM

The bass boomed out of the dark. Lines of shadowy figures swarmed towards it like an advancing orc army. The place to be. The center of the universe.

Still early, and with more than an hour to go until the first shots, the towering grandstand and grassy hillocks surrounding the first tee were filling up fast.

Continents and regions

Europe

Golf

Golf events

Jon Rahm

North America

Ryder Cup

Sports and recreation

Sports events

Sports figures

The Americas

Tiger Woods

United States

France

Sports fans

Western Europe

Paris

The 42nd Ryder Cup, the biennial bash between the USA and Europe , was on. For France, this was a first.

INTERACTIVE: Ryder Cup moments

The creep of pink light from the east was like the gradual lifting of the curtain to start the first act.

The first tee at Ryder Cups has taken on a mystical status in recent years, with songs, chants and jokes piercing the dawn like crackles of lighting. The stands at Le Golf National, near Paris, were the biggest yet, packed to capacity with nearly 7,000, the top 92 steps high. Intimidating for spectators, let alone nervous players.

Veteran Ryder Cup fans reminisced about first tees past -- the emotion at the K Club, the humor at Celtic Manor, the energy at Gleneagles, the thunder at Hazeltine.

In between beats, an announcer whipped up the crowd, imploring chants of "Ole, ole, ole" -- European Ryder Cup fans' unofficial anthem -- or "U-S-A." The volume and energy was impressive, but he needn't have bothered. This crowd creates its own energy, making first tees past so magical.

No matter. The cheers were still thunderous as the European players emerged -- the Americans were offered the type of boos usually reserved for pantomime villains.

Everywhere you looked, fans were decked out in whatever blue and yellow outfit they could get their hands on. Here a Danish flag, there a Spanish flag, everywhere a Euro flag.

Pockets of red, white and blue-clad US fans draped in the stars and stripes ventured "U-S-A" chants but they were drowned out by the taunts of "Europe, Europe, Europe."

European rookie Jon Rahm of Spain, playing in the first group with Justin Rose against Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau, set the tone by starting a stand-wide thunderclap, the slow handclap building to a crescendo popularized by Iceland's football fans. The crowd lapped it up.

"It's a football atmosphere on a golf course, you don't get that anywhere else," said Briton Rick Fothergill from Manchester. "It was amazing overpowering the US, the players accept it and get into the fun of it. Jon Rahm pumping the crowd up was brilliant."

Fothergill, dressed in a blue and yellow Bananaman superhero costume, was one of "11 Bananamen and one banana." The banana had come with his dad from Melbourne. "We've posed for more pictures than we've watched golf so far," added Fothergill.

READ: Why the Ryder Cup is like a drug for Ian Poulter

READ: How the Ryder Cup became rock 'n' roll

In the front row of the stand was the group known as the "Guardians of the Cup," a group of British university friends clad in blue and yellow outfits dotted with the yellow stars of Europe and yellow berets, who have been attending the Ryder Cup for more than a decade and act as unofficial cheerleaders.

"It was pretty amazing with the DJ and some pumping bassline at 6.30 a.m.," said Guardians' spokesman Teddy Shuttleworth.

His band of merry men -- up to 12 on a good year but eight in Paris -- are known for tailoring lyrics to popular songs for each of the European players.

The one for Rose is sung to the tune of Spandau Ballet's "Gold," while a new song for Rahm contains the lyric, "Do you have big muscles and a lovely smile? You do Rahm Rahm Rahm, you do Rahm Rahm."

They've received some social media backlash in the run-up to the Cup, suggesting their songs exclude others, not that they could have got any songs in given the enthusiasm of the announcer at Le Golf National. Shuttleworth says they've taken it on board.

"The more convoluted songs are hard for people to join in so we'll stick to the big anthems and save the songs for the bar. We've got a good Team Europe one."

The "Guardians" -- with a new tagline "Raiders of the Lost Cup" -- have American counterparts in a group dressed in red, white and blue with Viking helmets on, calling themselves the "American Marshals."

"They're great fun and a nice bunch of guys," says Shuttleworth, nodding across the stand to his right. "We played golf with them in Hazeltine and we'll meet them for a beer in Paris later."

'The Tiger factor'

Dressing up isn't the preserve of the Brits or Americans. One group of Frenchmen, attending their third Ryder Cup, are decked out in matching yellow trousers and shirts, blue jackets with yellow stars and French tricolor hats.

"I've been to the Scottish Open and the British Open but it's not got anywhere near the same atmosphere. The Ryder Cup is top. It's amazing," says Stephane Jarno, one of the number who hail from L'Orient in Brittany.

More than 40% of tickets sold have been to the French public, and the media have made a big deal of the event, according to Canal Plus journalist Romain Favril.

"It's the first [Cup] in France so they made it huge," he told CNN Sport. "Even for people not into golf, it's like the Olympics or the World Cup."

Jarno hopes his countrymen embrace what it is to be a passionate Ryder Cup fan and don't just come to admire Tiger Woods.

"I'm hoping the French will be cheering, 'Go Europe, Go Europe,'" he said. "I hope they won't support Tiger. We were his biggest fans last week and it's a pleasure to see him coming here, but hopefully everybody will support Europe.

"The question will be whether they are spectators or supporters?"

His fears have some justification. In the practice days the clamor to see Woods resembled a stampede at times. One young Frenchman walked around with a 9ft flag pole carrying a billowing stars and stripes and a California Republic flag, hoping to catch the attention of Woods and Phil Mickelson.

"I'm supporting Tiger, I love the USA, I don't like France," said 16-year-old Ernest Bailo from Lyon. He had been given Team USA pins from Mickelson and Rickie Fowler but could only attend for one day as "I have to go to class."

One of France's most famous golfers Thomas Levet was also concerned the locals would be too restrained, and too in awe of Woods after his comeback win in the Tour Championship made global news.

"That's the Tiger factor. He's getting in the way of the European team at the moment," Levet told CNN Sport, though Woods and partner Patrick Reed were beaten by Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood in the morning fourballs as the Americans took a 3-1 lead.

According to official figures, only 7% of tickets have been bought by visiting Americans, but their presence has been felt on the golf course.

Four friends from New Jersey had come in full Captain America outfits, and were loving the experience of their first Ryder Cup.

"This is incredible, the atmosphere and the energy is unlike any other golf tournament," said David Chertcoff, clutching a huge stogie.

For others, a Ryder Cup in Paris offered the chance for some once-in-a-lifetime tourism alongside the golf.

Minnesotan Patrick Reis had seen the sights in the "City of Light" before attending his fourth Ryder Cup. He was at Hazeltine two years ago, which he described as "unbelievable." "It was loud, but 99.9% on the good side," he said of the crowd's behavior.

"The Ryder Cup is amazing, extra special. It's nice to meet all the characters. I'm a golf fan and a sports fan and it melds the two. It's like a World Cup but even better."

For the fans in Paris the Ryder Cup remains rock 'n' roll, hopefully everyone knows the tune.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 78632

Reported Deaths: 3113
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion16437734
Lake7952283
Elkhart505191
Allen4161164
St. Joseph376683
Hamilton3033104
Vanderburgh212215
Hendricks1978109
Johnson1819119
Cass18139
Porter141539
Clark135250
Tippecanoe129312
Madison106266
LaPorte96730
Howard94865
Kosciusko87812
Bartholomew86747
Floyd86150
Marshall80523
Monroe78432
Vigo77913
Delaware77752
Dubois72912
Noble71729
Boone71646
Hancock70239
Warrick61230
Jackson6075
Shelby57328
LaGrange57110
Grant53330
Dearborn52828
Morgan50135
Henry46720
Clinton4624
Wayne41010
White38411
Montgomery36721
Harrison36524
Lawrence35927
Decatur35332
Putnam3318
Daviess29620
Scott28110
Miami2792
Jasper2662
Greene25934
Franklin25116
Gibson2464
DeKalb2444
Jennings23312
Ripley2218
Steuben2173
Carroll2135
Fayette2097
Perry18913
Orange18824
Posey1840
Starke1817
Wabash1805
Wells1802
Fulton1752
Jefferson1752
Knox1711
Sullivan1631
Whitley1626
Tipton15516
Washington1531
Clay1505
Spencer1403
Randolph1345
Huntington1303
Adams1242
Newton12110
Owen1131
Rush1004
Jay970
Pulaski841
Brown762
Fountain762
Pike670
Blackford662
Benton640
Ohio636
Vermillion620
Switzerland590
Parke581
Martin530
Crawford500
Union420
Warren251
Unassigned0207

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 106557

Reported Deaths: 3784
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin19287533
Cuyahoga14120523
Hamilton10001262
Lucas5609324
Montgomery4619101
Summit3749225
Butler310569
Marion295645
Mahoning2665259
Pickaway241142
Stark1947142
Warren191440
Lorain188477
Columbiana170461
Trumbull1598112
Fairfield147334
Delaware139219
Licking139053
Clark123516
Lake116343
Wood111558
Clermont100011
Medina98836
Miami89339
Allen84246
Tuscarawas80614
Portage78264
Greene76512
Mercer67613
Richland63512
Belmont62926
Erie62630
Madison58710
Ashtabula58246
Wayne58160
Geauga56445
Ross5285
Darke44230
Sandusky42117
Hancock4153
Huron4145
Ottawa40827
Athens3662
Lawrence3340
Holmes3326
Auglaize2888
Union2801
Muskingum2651
Scioto2651
Seneca2454
Jefferson2403
Shelby2344
Preble2302
Putnam22117
Knox2199
Washington21222
Coshocton1999
Champaign1922
Morrow1882
Hardin18312
Crawford1815
Clinton1806
Logan1742
Highland1712
Perry1693
Fulton1601
Ashland1593
Wyandot1589
Defiance1574
Brown1532
Williams1393
Fayette1270
Henry1252
Hocking1239
Guernsey1217
Carroll1155
Monroe9618
Gallia852
Pike810
Jackson790
Paulding740
Van Wert732
Adams682
Meigs660
Morgan320
Vinton322
Harrison261
Noble190
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 64°
Angola
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 61°
Huntington
Few Clouds
64° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 64°
Decatur
61° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 61°
Van Wert
61° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 61°
Weekend Storm Chances
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events