First-tee tension a sign of drama to come at Ryder Cup

Nervous excitement was the prevailing feeling on the first tee as Omnisport watched the 42nd Ryder Cup get under way at Le Golf National.

Le Golf National plays host to the start of the 2018 Ryder Cup   -  Getty Images

You know it is not a normal day when you hear DJ Otzi's 'Hey Baby' on two occasions before 8am.

Yet it was certainly not a normal day at Le Golf National on Friday as the 42nd Ryder Cup began in a unique environment.

Almost 7,000 fans crammed into the enormous and much-talked about grandstand behind the first tee, while thousands more lined the first hole, with the bulk of the crowd in position before the sun had risen over northern France.

This was certainly an occasion to savour in a country hosting this event for the first time. More than an hour before the first match began, music blared out of speakers around the first and the tension was palpable.

However, despite the efforts of an extremely enthusiastic compere and a warm-up playlist that predictably featured songs such as 'Seven Nation Army' and 'We Will Rock You', this was not a morning of non-stop noise.

Predictably loud roars and cheers, along with some good-natured boos for the visiting team, could be heard when each group of players made their way to the tee.

In addition, a succession of European players joyously conducted 'Viking Thunder Claps' from the crowd, while Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia - two Ryder Cup heroes left out of the opening session - received particularly warm welcomes.

At times, though, the volume level dipped considerably, and it was clear the players were not the only ones feeling nervy.

As Open champion Francesco Molinari explained on Tuesday, the pressure of a Ryder Cup far outweighs the stress of any other competition in golf.

And from the outset on Friday, there was drama and anxiety in abundance, with the opening hole offering a tantalising taste of what lies ahead.

Thorbjorn Olesen, Paul Casey and Patrick Reed all found water (and there will be plenty more incidents of players finding the drink on this course), while Tony Finau came perilously close to doing likewise with the first shot of the event.

In contrast, Justin Rose, Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth threatened the hole with their approach shots, the latter hitting the cup. Remarkably, Johnson did not even hit the hole with a birdie putt from three feet.

If Europe were looking for early encouragement, the start of their opening pair, Justin Rose and Jon Rahm, surely provided a confidence boost.

Rookie Rahm looked more comfortable than anyone on the first tee, rousing the crowd before finding the fairway, while Rose's approach landed almost stone-dead and ensured Europe struck first blood.

There will, of course, be countless twists and turns before the destination of the trophy is decided on Sunday, with Le Golf National's spectacular layout guaranteeing a wonderful spectacle.

This is no normal event and the next three days promise to be extraordinary.

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