DUBLIN, Ohio – The first tee at the Presidents Cup is equal parts fraternity kegger, sporting event, social gathering, choir practice and comedy club.
A couple of thousand people were packed tightly along three sides of the first tee at Muirfield Village for Friday's foursomes matches. There were maybe a dozen loud, yellow-clad "Fanatics" backing the International side. Another dozen or so were clad in red, white and blue and called themselves "American Outlaws."
The Outlaws is a collection of soccer fans at matches involving the United States at nearby Columbus Crew Stadium. The Fanatics are rabid fans from various countries who sing their own funny lyrics to popular songs.
The Fanatics, wearing yellow T-shirts, green-and-yellow argyle socks and green hats, sang, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" to South African Ernie Els. They also made him laugh with their version of the Disney classic "The Circle Of Life," substituting the word "golf" for "life."
Several said they had spent Thursday night in downtown Dublin, visiting the various pubs. Dan Sullivan, executive director of the Memorial Tournament, which also is played at the course, suggested another area for nightlife on Saturday night.
U.S. Captain Fred Couples played to the American fans – who wore stars-and-stripes bandanas and hats and waved several large U.S. flags – by walking over and asking them to "come up with something special" in the way of a song or cheer. He also asked fans where they were from and what they were doing. One said he had just graduated from college and was now a caddie on the LPGA Tour.
Jack Nicklaus, the course designer and unofficial tournament host, watched the proceedings from the other side of the tee along with PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem.
As Argentina's Angel Cabrera posed for a group picture with the Presidents Cup before teeing off, one of the Fanatics sang, "Don't Cry For Me, Argentina" – causing Cabrera to quickly turn his head toward the singer and smile.
The loudest laughter at the opening tee came when the Fanatics sang, "We got the whole world ... on our team."
RAUCOUS IN THE RAIN: A rain delay of nearly three hours made fans a little more boisterous when play resumed Friday at the Presidents Cup.
Perhaps too boisterous behind the 12th green.
Angel Cabrera had a 30-foot putt that he had to back off because of a few fans who kept yelling out as he stood over the putt. When the two-time major champion from Argentina knocked it in for a birdie and a 2-up lead, he turned and pointed to the hospitality pavilion with a big grin on his face.
According to partner Marc Leishman, it wasn't exactly civil coming from the peanut gallery.
"He was over his ball for the first time and there was a few people yelling out, then the second time he was over it, they yelled out a bit closer to when he was about to take it away," Leishman said. "The third time he was over it, someone yelled out really loudly, probably a split second before he was going to take the putter away, and obviously it was a pretty big distraction for him."
Cabrera walked away to regain his composure, and then drained the putt.