Eight years of frustration and two years of waiting boiled over into the moment the entire game of golf has been pining for — the first tee at Hazeltine on Friday morning. Flood lights illuminated the scene well before the sun came up, and the stands were at capacity a full hour before the first tee shots.
A group of like-dressed American fans in USA hockey jerseys and Viking hats (for some reason) tried to ignite the crowd with their songs and chants. They even got a laugh out of Tiger Woods when they asked "Where's the beverage cart?" Woods turned around and shrugged his shoulders while giving them a smile, as if to say, "I was wondering the same thing."
European fans were scattered amongst the masses, and made their voices heard with their patented "Ole!" cheer, but they were massively outnumbered. Their support was drowned out by the standard "USA! USA! USA!" chants reverberating through the Gopher State.
Packed. Just absolutely packed. The media pen was overflowing, and there were fans 10-deep in areas where you can't even see the guys swing a club. When Golf Channel cut to the live scene for the first time, the top blew off the volcano, and every single hair on my body stood straight up. I was anticipating an absolutely lit scene, and it exceeded my wildest dreams. This seemed so far from golf, and the sun was barely up in Minnesota.
This was the scene on 1. pic.twitter.com/Hf2NKbZegj— No Laying Up (@NoLayingUp) September 30, 2016
Separate ovations for each assistant captain rang through the morning as they all made their way to the tee, with Tiger obviously receiving the loudest one.
The big cat is here pic.twitter.com/MCoTpvlNJI— Brendan Porath (@BrendanPorath) September 30, 2016
The tension built as Patrick Reed strutted over to the tee box, regrettably forgoing the entrance on the back of a bald eagle, and arriving on his own two feet.
Incredibly, a silence somehow fell over the crowd as Justin Rose lined up to begin the festivities, and he proceeded to stripe one down the middle. Reed opted not to go with a Happy Gilmore crowd pump up. After shooting a missile between the two fairway bunkers, he took off down the fairway at roughly the same velocity as the Titleist he had just launched.