sambradfordThe Ryder Cup is the best and worst spectator event, all rolled into one.

You either walk around from hole to hole, trying to glimpse the flight of the ball from in between garish hats and phones … or you camp out at one or two holes in a day, dedicating yourself to a handful of shots while giving up the other 90-95 percent or so.

But the atmosphere? It’s awesome. It’s like a rolling college football game between two big rivals, complete with trash-talking fans and more than average emotion from the players.

Those two elements – waiting to see something, anything … plus the rivalry mentality of the event – combine to make spectators rather fired up. (The combination of sunshine and plentiful drinks doesn’t hurt, either. If Mark Twain described golf as “a good walk spoiled,” many Ryder Cup patrons have decided that it’s more like a good walk, wasted).

Here are some of the notable interactions I heard and saw Saturday:

  • “We have to get you a box to stand on.” — A fan in the gallery at the first tee box to Rory McIlroy, who at 5-9 is a good eight inches shorter than Saturday afternoon playing partner Thomas Pieters. McIlroy shot the fan a glance (and then the team went out and dominated the early part of its match).
  • poulter“Paul Azinger told us to heckle you.” — A fan in the gallery at the tee box on hole 4 to the pairing of Lee Westwood and Peter Willett. That and a number of other comments from the same general direction drew the ire of European vice captain Ian Poulter, who glared at the fans, made a motion as if to indicate “I’m watching you” and then came over to ask fans to “show some respect” after the group had finished teeing off.
  • “You’re still out.” — A fan to Martin Kaymer after he launched a shot from one bunker to another on hole 4. Not long after, another fan implored his playing partner, Sergio Garcia, to “get it close” on a short putt to halve the hole. Garcia missed, helping the pairing of Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar expand its lead.
  • As the afternoon matches were headed toward the turn, Vikings QB Sam Bradford made his way into Hazeltine. He was walking by himself, and he quickly generated some head turns, shoutouts and requests for selfies from the Minnesotans in the crowd.

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