Ryder Cup: Huge stand to set pulse racing but atmosphere flat-lined

General view of the 1st hole as fans clap their hands on the opening day of the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, outside Paris, France, Friday, Sept. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
General view of the 1st hole as fans clap their hands on the opening day of the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, outside Paris, France, Friday, Sept. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
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Memo to Guy Kinnings, the man who is set to take over from Richard Hills as Europe’s Ryder Cup director after this week’s match: Bigger is not necessarily better.

The huge grandstand behind the first tee at Le Golf National had been given a big build up, its sheer scale prompting many to predict it would help take the atmosphere to a new level of frenzy.

Guess what? It was actually quite underwhelming, the first time, in fact, that this correspondent has been in the crowd to see the opening blow in nine of these events and not felt the hair on the back of my neck bristling.

Gleneagles four years ago was much better, as was Hazeltine in 2016. In comparison to both of those events, this was tame in terms of creating electricity in the stands.

The players down on the tee might say differently, as might a crowd standing just behind the tee. But up in the gods in a grandstand with seating for just under 7,000 people it was a bit of a damp squib.

As Tony Finau, playing with Brooks Koepka against Justin Rose and Jon Rahm, hit the first shot at 8.10am, some of those seats were empty. Apparently, fans were still queuing for buses to the course in the Paris suburbs.

For some reason, and it had to be down to the majority of people being quite a distance up from the tee, the whole thing was simply not what it had been cranked up to be.

The best thing about it was the introduction of the thunderclap, started by Motherwell fans apparently but made famous around the world after being adopted by Iceland supporters, to golf. That can be part of this event going forward, but there is no place for the boos directed at the Americans. European fans have always shown respect to the American players and, while the same can’t be said in reverse, a change in that behaviour needs to be nipped in the bud.