Not Much Buzz on Day 1


04 Ryder CupBLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- Midway through Friday's Ryder Cup matches at Oakland Hills, English golf fan Sean Warden began to wonder: Was it tee time, or tea time?
In stark contrast to the past two Ryder Cups, where crowds barked and chanted from the first shot to the last, the estimated 38,000 attending the opening matches never created the boisterous All-American atmosphere many expected.
Perhaps it was the chilly weather. Perhaps it was the pleas from both captains to keep sportsmanship at the forefront. More likely, it was the Europeans' dominant play as they jumped out to a 3 1/2 to 1/2 lead in the morning and 6 1/2 to 1 1/2 by the end of the day.
Home-course disadvantage? Given the Americans' bad play and the good will built up earlier in the week when the Europeans courted the crowd with their friendliness and constant autograph signing, Oakland Hills might as well have been the Belfry or Valderrama.
'Frankly, it's good for us,' said Warden, a 39-year-old from Hastings, England, who has traveled to the past six biennial matches. 'If it's quiet, that usually means we're doing well.'
The Americans had their moments, though they never led at any point of the four morning matches.
Fred Funk, playing with Davis Love, raised the noise level in the afternoon when he sank a long birdie putt at No. 5 to halve the hole with the top European duo of Colin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington.
At nearly the same time, Chris DiMarco pumped his fists and stoked the crowd at No. 6 when he ran in a 20-footer to take a 2-up lead with partner Jay Haas over Miguel Angel Jimenez and Thomas Levet.
'Let's go,' DiMarco shouted to anyone who would listen. By far the Americans' most enthusiastic player, DiMarco repeatedly pumped his fists and gestured to the crowd for more noise.
It rarely came.
The first sustained chorus of 'U-S-A, U-S-A,' occurred nine hours after the day's first shot when DiMarco and Haas won, 3 and 2, for America's first full point.
But fans seemed to be equally appreciative of the Europeans' splendid shot-making.
A slimmed-down Montgomerie, long a magnet for jeering from American fans because of his weight and inability to tune out taunting, received a loud ovation at No. 8 in the alternate-shot matches. His difficult downhill chip from the back of the green crawled to within a couple of inches of the hole.
Even before arriving in suburban Detroit, David Bicknell of London didn't expect any of the raucousness that defined the 1999 competition at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass. Then, the Americans captivated a boisterous crowd with a memorable Sunday comeback completed when Justin Leonard holed a decisive 45-foot putt on the 17th hole. The delighted U.S. golfers sprinted across the green in celebration while the match was in progress, upsetting the Europeans with their perceived lack of sportsmanship.
'I could somewhat understand that because of the comeback,' said Bicknell, a Ryder Cup regular. 'This is much more subdued, quiet even. But I like it that way.'
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