MEDINAH, Ill. (AP) — The cheers began Tuesday morning to celebrate American players simply walking over a bridge to the first tee at Medinah.
Imagine what it will sound like when they make a putt.
The first official day of practice at the Ryder Cup served up a reminder that while Europe has only one rookie on its team — Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium — it has plenty of others who only know what it's like to play before the home crowd.
"We talked a lot about it and there's no doubt, playing at home is a big advantage," Peter Hanson of Sweden said. "We saw it last time in Wales, and we have seen it over here in the past. So I think it's just something we have to deal with, and we have to be stronger this time than we were the last time when we won by one point. So if we are going to get that cup back overseas, we know we have to perform very well."
Home advantage is said to be worth one point, the very margin that decided the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor the last time out.
Hanson joins Rory McIlroy, Martin Kaymer and Francesco Molinari as Europeans who played their first Ryder Cup before a home crowd. Perhaps they can get some advice from Graeme McDowell, who made his debut in Kentucky four years ago.
"There's no doubt, there's a world of different between playing in front of your home fans and playing in front of the U.S. fans," said McDowell, who lost his opening match at Valhalla with Padraig Harrington. "Putts that drop in front of your home fans was like a bomb going off, and putts that go in this weekend will be like someone's got a silencer on. It's kind of a muted applause."
What stuck out for McDowell was the par-3 14th hole at Valhalla, which had a huge hill on both sides creating an amphitheater filled with fans, mostly dressed in some variety of red, white and blue. Whenever the home team won the hole, the cheers resounded across the course.
McDowell wonders if the par-3 17th will be similar.
"Our goal this week will be trying to get as many of that muted applause as we can, holing our own putts," he said. "There's something interesting about missing a putt and having the cheers go up. That's something we are not used to as golfers. But I think it's something you've got to accept this week, and I'm looking forward to it.
"The days of hostility, I think, are gone," he said. "We'll see. ... Should be a lot of fun."
Vahalla first showed off a high-charged gallery in the 2000 PGA Championship, the memorable duel between Tiger Woods and Bob May that Woods won in a playoff for his third straight major. The Ryder Cup brought the same kind of energy.
But this is Chicago, one of the best sporting cities in the world, and certainly on a grander scale than Louisville.
"I have a feeling that Chicago might be even more boisterous," Justin Rose said.
Rose also was a Ryder Cup rookie in America, playing on that European team four years ago and succeeding, at least as an individual. He went 3-1 that week, beating Phil Mickelson in a singles match to keep alive hopes.
Ultimately, the United States delivered a win for the home crowd. And while Europe has dominated the Ryder Cup by winning six of the last eight times, the Americans have lost only twice at home since then — at Oak Hill in 1995 and Oakland Hills in 2004.
"Having played more and more golf over here, I feel more ready for this Ryder Cup than I did the last Ryder Cup," Rose said.
The last time Chicago saw golf at the highest level was last year in the BMW Championship at Cog Hill, which Rose won by two shots. So he has that going for him.
"But I don't think you can sort of ever know exactly what to expect with a Ryder Cup environment," Rose said. "It happens so rarely that we get to play in this environment that you just have to roll with it, I guess, and feed off it and be resilient out there, as well, because there's going to be a lot of things that happen on the golf course that ... just aren't normal to you."
It's not unusual for the Ryder Cup, though.
This is what the Americans went through in Wales, Ireland, England and Spain. Now it's Europe's turn to either tune out the gallery or find a way to silence it.
"It will be obviously in our favor, just like it is when we go over to Europe," Tiger Woods said. "But hey, it's part of the deal."
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