GLENEAGLES Scotland (Reuters) - The Ryder Cup’s unique atmosphere is in safe hands so long as its self-titled “Guardians” choir continue to attend and their lusty singing and bespoke chanting brought smiles and applause from both teams on Friday.
Unlike the boorish, often alcohol-fuelled drone of the “Barmy Army” that is now the regular backdrop to any England cricket match, the “Guardians” are cut from a different cloth — literally.
Nine of them had commandeered the most prized seats in Scotland on Friday, the front row of the main grandstand right behind the first tee at Gleneagles, and they could not be missed.
Each sported matching bright yellow shirts and caps with a snazzy blue waistcoat dotted with golden stars on the front and a Ryder Cup and “Guardians” on the back.
Not for them a simple “Europe” chant — these men had spent months devising then perfecting individual ditties for just about every European player on the team, and the rest of the crowd — and the players from both teams — were happy to sit quietly and enjoy the show.
“We’ve been doing it like this for the last three Ryder Cups, though the first we went to was 2002,” Ed Oliver, founder member of the “Ryder Cup Guardians”, told Reuters.
“It’s good fun, we’re mostly a group of old university friends and it gives us the chance to get together.
“Do you like the suits? My great grandma Hazel Oliver made them.”
Some of the chants, such as “Bjorn v the USA” to the tune of the Bruce Springsteen anthem to welcome Dane Thomas Bjorn, were simple but others were complicated and wordy re-workings of three-verse songs.
“We sort of go over them back and forth via email then get together for a bit of a practice via FaceTime,” Oliver said.
“Viva Garcia,” to the tune of “Viva Espana” and a simple, foot-stomping “Rory” greeted Europe’s top paring of Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy.
Ian Poulter was, as usual, “Walking in a Poulter Wonderland”, while local debutant Stephen Gallacher is unlikely to ever forget the rousing rendition of “There’s only one Stevie G” that introduced him to the tee.
Oliver refused to say what time his group had arrived to occupy their ringside seats for the 06.35GMT start, but said: “It was very dark and it feels like mid-afternoon now so, it was pretty early.”
Editing by Amlan Chakraborty