France falls in love with Tiger

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Still early, and with more than an hour to go to the first shots, the towering grandstand and grassy hills around the first tee fell quickly.

42nd Ryder Cup, the biennial bash between the US and Europe, was underway. This was a first for France.

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

The first T-piece at Ryder Cups has been given a mystical status in recent years, with songs, chants and jokes that pierced the dawn as squatters of enlightenment. The stands at Le Golf National, near Paris, were the biggest so far, packed with almost 7,000, the top 92 steps high. Intimidating for spectators, let alone nervous players.

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

Between the beats, an announcer banged the crowd, pleading chants of "Ole, ole, ole" – unofficial anthem of the European Ryder Cup fans – or "U-S-A." The volume and energy were impressive, but he should not have worried. This crowd creates its own energy, making the first tees over so magical.

It does not matter. The cheering was still thundering when the European players appeared – the Americans got the kind of anger that was usually reserved for pantomime villains.

Everywhere you looked, the fans were dressed in every blue and yellow outfit they could get their hands on. Here a Danish flag, there a Spanish flag, a Euro-flag everywhere.

Bags with red, white and blue-clad American fans draped in the stars and stripes dared "US" chants but they were drowned out by the scorn of "Europe, Europe, Europe."

European rookie Jon Rahm from Spain, who played in the first group with Justin Rose against Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau, set the tone by making a stand-wide thunderclap, the slow handclap building into a crescendo popularized by Icelandic football fans. The crowd spooned it up.

"It's a football atmosphere on a golf course that you can not understand anywhere else", said the Briton Rick Fothergill from Manchester. "It was great to overwhelm the US, the players accepted it and came to the fun." Jon Rahm who was exciting the crowd was brilliant. "

Fothergill, dressed in a blue and yellow Bananaman superhero costume, was one of" 11 bananas and one banana. "The banana came from Melbourne with his father." We have posed for more photo & # 39; s then we have seen golf so far, "added Fothergill.

READ: Why the Ryder Cup is a medicine for Ian Poulter READ: How the Ryder Cup a rock – n-roll was

In the first row of the stands the group was known as the Guardians of the Cup & # 39 ;, a group of British university friends dressed in blue and yellow outfits studded with the yellow stars of Europe and yellow berets, who have attended the Ryder Cup for more than a decade and behave as unofficial cheerleaders.

"It was pretty great with the DJ and a pumping bass line at 6.30 am", Guardians & # 39; spokesman Teddy Shuttleworth.

His group of merry men – up to 1 2 years in a good year but 8 in Paris – are known for matching texts on popular songs for each of the European players.

The one for Rose is sung on the "Gold" of Spandau Ballet, while a new song for Rahm contains the text: "Do you have big muscles and a nice smile? You do Rahm Rahm Rahm, you do Rahm Rahm . "

received some backlash from social media in the run-up to the cup, suggesting that their songs exclude others, and not that they might have seen numbers of the presenter's enthusiasm at Le Golf National. Shuttleworth says they took it on board.

"The more complicated songs are difficult for people to join, so we stick to the big hymns and save the numbers for the bar We have a good Team Europe."

The "Guardians" – with a new slogan "Raiders of the Lost Cup" – have American counterparts dressed in red, white and blue with Viking helmets and call themselves the "American Marshals."

"They are very nice and a nice bunch of boys," says Shuttleworth, nodding across the stands to his right. "We played golf with them in Hazeltine and we meet them later for a beer in Paris."

& # 39; The Tiger factor & # 39;

Dressing up is not the domain of the British or Americans. A group of French people attending their third Ryder Cup are decked out in matching yellow trousers and shirts, blue jackets with yellow stars and French tricolor hats.

"I went to the Scottish Open and the British Open but it is nowhere near the same atmosphere." The Ryder Cup is great. It's amazing, "says Stephane Jarno, one of the members of L & # 39; Orient in Brittany.

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

"It is the first [Cup] in France, so they made it huge," he told CNN Sport. "Even for people who do not want to play golf it is just like the Olympic Games or the World Cup. "

Jarno hopes that his compatriots will embrace what it is like to be a passionate Ryder Cup fan and not just admire Tiger Woods.

"I hope the French will cheer," Go Europe, Go Europe, "" he said. "I hope they will not support Tiger. We were his biggest fans last week and it is a pleasure to see him coming here, but hopefully everyone will support Europe.

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

His fears have some justification: during the practice days the cry to see Woods sometimes seemed like a rush. A young Frenchman walked around with a 9ft flag pole with wavy stars and stripes and a republic of California flag, hoping to catch the attention of Woods and Phil Mickelson.

"I support Tiger, I love the US, I do not like France", said 16-year-old Ernest Bailo from Lyon. He had received Team USA's pins from Mickelson and Rickie Fowler, but could only attend a day like "I have to go to class".

One of the most famous golfers Thomas Levet from France was also concerned about the local population. too cautious, and too impressed with Woods after his comeback victory in the Tour Championship made worldwide news.

"That's the tiger factor, he's currently in the way of the European team," Levet told CNN Sport, although Woods and his partner Patrick Reed beat four balls in the morning by Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood, like the Americans names. a 3-1 lead

According to official figures, only 7% of the tickets bought by Americans are to be visited, but their presence can be felt on the golf course.

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

"This is incredible, the atmosphere and energy is different from all other golf tournaments," said David Chertcoff, holding a huge stogie.

For others, a Ryder Cup in Paris offered the chance for a one-off life tourism along the golf course.

Minnesotan Patrick Reis had seen the sights in the "City of Light" for attending his fourth Ryder Cup.He was two years ago in Hazeltine, which he described as & # 39; incredible & # 39; "It was loud, but 99.9% on the good side," he said about the behavior of the crowd.

"The Ryder Cup is great, extra special. It's nice to see all the characters. meet.I'm a golffan and a sports fan and report the two.It is just a World Cup but even better. "

For the fans in Paris the Ryder Cup remains rock – & # 39; n-roll, hopefully everyone knows the tune.

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