Crowd full of beer, Eagles and vikings on opening day of Ryder Cup

Crowd full of beer, Eagles and vikings… fancy dress is in full flow on the opening day of the Ryder Cup with the American crowd at its very best even with some ‘comedy’ boos for the visiting Europeans

  • Thousands of fans turned out for the opening session at the Ryder Cup on Friday 
  • The American crowd got into the spirit with fancy dress outfit including eagles
  • It was mostly good natured though there were some pantomime boos 
  • The Americans had the upper hand, dominating the morning foursomes session 

By the dawn’s early light, they could see — and hear — a US Ryder Cup crowd at its very best.

With the first rays of sunshine gently creeping over the tranquil Lake Michigan horizon, the self-styled American Marshals — a group of grown men who wear Viking hats (and who may well become very annoying over the coming days) — captured the moment perfectly.

Standing at the front of a packed grandstand surrounding the first tee, they began to sing the US national anthem. But this was not a chest-beating version. In keeping with the beauty of the surroundings, their tones were soft.

Fancy dress was in full flow on the opening day of the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits

A Team USA fan wearing a bald eagle mask during the Friday morning foursome matches

Close to 3,000 voices quickly joined them. All waved tiny stars and stripes flags in the air in what was an understated yet uplifting start to proceedings.

It deteriorated slightly, with ‘comedy’ boos for the Europeans when they approached the tee, but this was more pantomime than pestiferous. A non-raucous Ryder Cup — at least for now.

In the midst of a wall of red, white and blue, there were some specks of blue and yellow. One of those in the overwhelming minority had quite a story to tell — and quite an understanding wife.

Ashley Pearson, a 40-year-old recruitment consultant from Stevenage, was determined not to miss out, despite transport being forbidden from the UK to the US. He hatched a plan which entailed a fortnight in Mexico to enable him to be here.

‘We got the tickets three years ago,’ he explained. ‘In May, June, we still were not allowed in, but my cousin who lives here said you can come in if you come from somewhere outside Europe, like Mexico.

The US crowd was at its very best and there was a soft rendition of the national anthem

There were some pantomime ‘boos’ aimed at the European team from a partisan crowd

‘I looked at my wife, Jo, and said, “The money is going to kill us” but she said, “It’s your 40th, it’s your uncle’s 65th, your cousin’s retirement, it’s the chance of a lifetime. Don’t let anything stop you”.’

However, disaster struck when, with non-refundable flights and hotels booked, the UK Government nudged Mexico from amber to red. Cue another phone call to Jo.

‘I told her I’ve got to stay in the States for 11 days afterwards to get back to England,’ he explained. ‘My cousin’s just moved to the beach in Florida so we’re going down there afterwards. What was meant to be a three-day golf event has turned into 28 days away from my wife and two kids.’

For the most part, the support for the home team and barracking for the visitors was good-natured. There appeared to be an issue on the third tee, with something said to Spanish pair Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia. American Justin Thomas was seen pointing out the offender to security.

There were some specks of blue and yellow in the crowd cheering on the European team 

The American fans were left happy as Team USA took a 3-1 lead in the morning session

There were fans on the 17th hole wearing giant, inflatable, sumo-style US flags

The costumes — think Uncle Sam, Founding Fathers and giant American eagles — were manifold. The prize for the biggest belonged to two men spotted close to the 17th in what can only be described as giant, inflatable, sumo-style US flags.

Dan Sarles and Ben Heavrin, the 45-year-old wearers, were both graduates of illustrious Princeton, on a weekend away with pal and fellow Boston native John Soriel, who sported a slightly more sedate stars and stripes navy blazer and bright red trousers.

‘There’s a battery keeping it inflated,’ explained Sarles. ‘Going to the restroom is a 15-minute process but it’s worth it for the spirit of being here.’

Fans waving the American flag during the opening morning session at Whistling Straits

Sarles believes the competition will pass off without major incident. He added: ‘You always get a couple of buffoons, yahoos, who say things but 98 per cent of the people here are good.’

Heavrin, clutching a can of beer, was in good form.

‘We had a couple of good cocktails before dawn, incredible, overlooking Lake Michigan,’ he said. Then he summed up the mood accurately, adding: ‘It’s just a great time to be here with friends.’

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