GLENEAGLES Scotland (Reuters) - Thousands of excited fans thronged the first tee three and a half hours before the start of the 12 final-day singles matches as the anticipation built at the 40th Ryder Cup on Sunday.
The European supporters, confident their team would not let slip their 10-6 overnight lead, belted out their soccer-style chants at the top of their voices from the huge grandstands on a sunny day at Gleneagles.
“If you’re not excited by all this you must be dead,” four-times Europe captain Tony Jacklin told Sky Sports television. “It’s an incredible atmosphere and they’ve been here since first thing this morning.
“They will be thinking Paul McGinley’s men are almost there but with match play golf you just never know. I believe Europe will win comfortably by three or four points although we’ve seen some great last-day comebacks before.”
Former U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell occupies the pivotal number one slot in the singles order, going out at 1136 local time against U.S. rookie Jordan Spieth.
The second match features Henrik Stenson v Patrick Reed before world number one Rory McIlroy confronts his good friend Rickie Fowler in the third game.
McGinley said he had a plan to have McDowell in the anchor role at the top of the order ever since he was appointed captain in January 2013.
“I never changed my mind and never shared it with anybody,” said the Irishman. “I only shared it with Graeme on Wednesday when I told him what his role was this week because Graeme was a guy who wanted to play five matches.
“He has a big heart, he’s a big player, he loves the big occasion and for me, you need a real fighter in that first game,” said McGinley.
“That sets the tone for the day. That’s the guy that goes in with the hard tackle, the first hard tackle in a soccer match,” added the Manchester United fan.
“Graeme is that kind of guy although not a Roy Keane, not a dirty tackler,” he laughed.
Europe only need four points from the singles to retain the trophy they won in the ‘Miracle at Medinah’ two years ago.
Editing by Amlan Chakraborty