NEWPORT, Wales — The official attendance for the Monday finish of the 2010 Ryder Cup was 35,000, and it felt like all 35,000 were around the 17th green when Graeme McDowell and Hunter Mahan were lining up their final shots of the tournament.
It was a great hole to watch all week. Despite the knocks Celtic Manor took for not draining the rain and not being one of the UK’s storied links, the course was a winner with fans as the hillside along Nos. 16, 17 and 18, offered natural grandstands to see all the action. The 211-yard downhill par-3 17th was the turning point of so many close matches and the rowdiest fans at Celtic Manor filled the grandstand behind the green, creating the atmosphere of a soccer match with their flags and chants and songs. On Monday afternoon, with the Ryder Cup tied, Mahan and McDowell the only players on the course, fans sat everywhere from the tee box to the fringe of the green.Those fans were mostly Europeans of course, with a few pockets of American fans who probably felt like Keith Olbermann at a Sarah Palin rally. Sergio Garcia waved his arms to fire up the crowd as McDowell and Mahan walked down to the green. European captain Colin Montgomerie was there, with Edoardo Molinari, Francesco Molinari and Rory McIlroy, and Rickie Folwer rushed down to the 17th green with assistant captain Paul Goydos and a few American WAGs after getting a buggy ride from 18, where Folwer had just completed his own heroics. McIlroy even subbed in as a radio announcer during the hole. After Mahan flubbed his chip shot, McIlroy told Ryder Cup Radio that “We all know that Hunter is not the world’s best chipper. It's the part of the game he struggles with.” Watch out, Johnny Miller, you might have some competition. When Mahan’s par-saving putt came up short, hundreds of Europeans rushed the green for an impromptu party. There was dancing. There were songs -- the two favorites were “We Want Our Trophy Back!,” and “There’s Only Two Molinaris, Two Molinaris! Two Molinaris!” And there was drinking. Forget about the grip-and-grin ceremonies you see later, this was the real Ryder Cup celebration. Fans hoisted up Edoardo on their shoulders and bounced him around during his namesake song. The cameramen used to a front-row seat for all the action just held up their cameras and hoped they were getting the right shots as the 17th green became a giant scrum.
The party went on, and on -- more songs, more chants and more shouts of joy -- until it ended the way so many celebrations here do: with a few bowler-wearing policemen dispersing the crowd in their polite but firm manner. Just as well. It was starting to smell a little rank in there.(Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)