The Ryder Cup opening ceremony teamed bagpipes with ballads on Thursday, as Europe and the US prepared to do battle at Gleneagles, Scotland, in golf’s greatest team event.
In an atmosphere that combined professional respect with palpable anticipation and edgy competitive passion, team captains Paul McGinley and Tom Watson introduced their players, following an official welcome by Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond.
“Love of country, continent and the game of golf” is what the Ryder Cup is about, Salmond said, paying tribute to the fact that the biennial competition is played for pride rather than money and wishing both teams good luck.
Wives, partners and official dignitaries sat behind each side’s 12 players, who were last to enter the stage.
The entertainment was full of Scottish pride and tradition, started by the Red Hot Chilli Pipers — an ensemble of pipers, guitarists, keyboards and drummers — and followed by Scottish Opera singers and the singer-songwriter Amy Macdonald.
Watson was the first captain to speak at the ceremony and he sought to fire up his team.
“This is the week every two years where these men sat before me come together to play as one. Gentlemen, I could not be more proud to be your captain,” Watson said.
McGinley, a three-time player and winner in the Ryder Cup and the first Irish captain, said his side could become “the pride of Europe” by winning what he expects to be “an epic contest,” while urging players and fans to be courteous to their opponents.
“It is this element that makes the Ryder Cup unique,” McGinley said, adding that although Europe’s players hail from different countries and cultures, “we must stand as one.”
Following the announcement of the pairings for yesterday’s opening four-ball matches — which will see Europe’s Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson take on Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson of the US; Thomas Bjorn and Martin Kaymer play Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker; Stephen Gallacher and Ian Poulter up against Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed; and Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy take on Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson — the home crowd seemed ready for the start of play proper.
“Europe, Europe, Europe,” they roared, without any reply of “USA, USA,” the chant that usually accompanies the US side.
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