Fans help create magic moments at Medinah
The energy, exuberance and rowdiness fans have brought to Medinah Country Club this weekend for the 39th Ryder Cup has players and commentators alike raving over your conduct.
"You know, I think Chicago should be very proud of the way the fans have acted," said U.S. member Keegan Bradley, who teamed with Phil Mickelson to go 3-0 over the first two days. "There hasn't been much unsportsmanlike conduct from the crowd. I think the crowd has been very pro-American obviously, and they're getting me and Phil very excited.
"I can barely contain myself out there."
Said fellow rookie Brandt Snedeker: "Keegan and Phil have this crowd going absolutely nuts. If you can give them anything at all to get excited about, they're going to. We need it to be loud and crazy and try to make people feel uncomfortable out there."
The excitement travels all around the golf course and even off it. For example:
• Bubba Watson did his best Happy Gilmore impersonation on the first tee Friday, getting the crowd to cheer DURING his first tee shot. He did it two more times Saturday and was even beaten to the punch by Ian Poulter in the morning match.
"I knew he was going to do it again, so why not enjoy the fun of what it was," Poulter said.
• Jim Furyk, after he and Brandt Snedeker won their Saturday morning match, did a behind-the-back pass with 9-year-old Davis Deblin's signed volleyball near the practice green. Young "captain" Davis, who hails from Salt Lake City, had signatures from Jason Dufner, Davis Love III, Matt Kuchar and Snedeker (twice!).
• Fans were dressed in all kinds of goofy outfits, some with Rory McIlroy hair wigs, others looking like they WERE the American flag and still others in full-out Minnesota Vikings garb, complete with horned hats.
• And let's not forget the entire grandstand on the 17th hole breaking into the national anthem just before Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker teed off with their thrilling Saturday afternoon match hanging in the balance.
It's been a special week, and one that has left an impression on longtime NBC interviewer Jimmy Roberts, who is at his 10th Ryder Cup.
"I've never seen this many people on a golf course, whether for a Ryder Cup or for any golf event," Roberts said. "The atmosphere is spectacular. I think that Medinah is an absolutely perfect venue. There aren't many left that can handle the size and scope of these things.
"I think it's fantastic, it's been a lot of fun."
There has been debate over whether or not this has been the loudest and most enthusiastic American crowd at a Ryder Cup. Some — like Furyk — point out that in past events such as Brookline in 1999 and Oakland Hills in 2004, the U.S. team didn't do enough to get the crowd involved.
At Medinah, it has been a completely different story. There was European blue on the board for the first part of Friday's morning matches, but when Bradley buried his birdie putt on No. 9 to square his match, the tidal wave of red — and the big roars — started and never stopped.
Furyk credits Paul Azinger with making the crowd feel part of the action in 2008 at Valhalla in Louisville.
"He did a good job of including them … and telling them how much we needed them and how much we would respond to the noise that they made," Furyk said.
That noise clearly came to Medinah, and figures to continue four years from now in Hazeltine, Minn., for the 2016 Ryder Cup.
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