This crowd was supportive as it could be for the American side. When Padraig Harrington hit a solid approach shot onto the fourth green, only to have Phil Mickelson hit one even closer to the pin, a fan yelled out, "All day, baby!" Later in the round a fan begged Mickelson playing partner Jim Furyk, "Go for the jugular, Jimmy!"
In the afternoon four-ball competition, Kentucky native J.B. Holmes blew a drive 80 yards past Lee Westwood's tee shot, prompting a fan to say sympathetically to Westwood, "That's embarrassing." Westwood smiled.
But this crowd wasn't rude or worse, unfair, to the Europeans. Their players were allowed to hit shots in silence. Occasionally a European would hit a poor shot, like Sergio Garcia's iron into a watery grave on No. 15, and a single fan, maybe two, would cheer. But there were more than 40,000 people here. One or two cheers for a shot in the water? That's nothing.
The only boos I heard all day were love offerings to American Boo Weekley, who responded by flapping his arms and bobbing his head as Westwood stared lasers into his back. But Westwood is a smarmy sucker. All day the crowd was cheering for Kenny Perry -- "Let's go, Kenny!" -- and Westwood seemed to snap on No. 11 after Perry missed a putt that would have won the hole. As he walked off the green, Westwood turned to Garcia and said smugly, "Let's go, Kenny." Heard that myself.
Oh, sure, there was some European unruliness. Mickelson missed a putt on the sixth hole to give it to Harrington-and-Robert Karlsson, and Harrington's wife erupted into a mini-chant: "Let's go Europe! Let's go Europe!" I've got no problem with that. Our fans gave the "U-S-A" chant after every pro-American turn of events, and Weekley himself started the cheers during the morning foursomes. He wasn't playing, just supporting Perry and Furyk, and as they walked to the green on No. 11, Weekley stood in front of the grandstand and said, "All right now, when they get close, let's give it to Kenny. You hear me? Let's give it to Kenny!"
That's good. All of it was good. The crowd, the atmosphere, the sportsmanship -- good. And that's bad. I wanted unruliness, maybe ugliness, but the only truly ugly thing I saw all day was Miguel Angel Jimenez's ponytail.
And it started so promisingly, too. When the first group of the first foursome of this Ryder Cup stepped onto the first tee, the public-address announcer introduced the only double-major winner from this 2008 season as "Padraig Hairston."
Hairston Harrington snapped his head around to look at the guy, who got it right a few seconds later when he introduced Harrington again.
See? No harm meant. None intended. Not all day.