‘It was the most nerve-racking shot I ever hit’: Standing on the first tee at the Ryder Cup

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“It was, hands down, the most nervous I’ve ever been. It doesn’t even compare to as nervous as I was during the PGA [Championship, which he won in 2017] or as nervous as I’ve been winning golf tournaments. It is just a total out-of-body experience.

“The best way to explain it to people … I hit a 5-wood off the first tee and I don’t put it on a tee when I do that. I just kind of put it on the deck. I kind of dig a little thing in the ground with my club and I’ll set it up on that. I’ve always said if I had to put it on a tee, I don’t think I could have. I would have been too nervous, to where I would not have been able to get a ball on the tee.

Team USA's Justin Thomas (left) and Tiger Woods during preview day four of the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National, Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, Paris.
Team USA’s Justin Thomas (left) and Tiger Woods during preview day four of the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National, Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, Paris.

“The pressure, it’s a privilege, you want to be able to feel that. If you didn’t feel that, I mean, then there would be no reason for me or any of us to be playing. That’s why I turned pro, that’s why I’ve gotten here is to be playing in a Ryder Cup and to have those experiences.

If you’re never getting that moment, you never learn. But that was pretty nuts.

Jordan Spieth

First Ryder Cup: 2014 at Gleneagles

“I remember it was the most nerve-racking shot I ever hit. [Patrick Reed went first and skied his first tee shot.] I don’t know if that calmed me down. It might have helped. If that was the case I don’t really remember because I was so nervous I don’t know if I knew what anyone did on the first hole.

“I have a painting of that first tee shot, it’s one of the coolest things that I have because it was probably the most nerve-racking shot of my life. It was my first time ever in an away arena. Something about the 40 degrees, fog rising. The sun is just coming up there in Scotland, you hear the echoes from the crowd and all the chants. And you’re like, ‘What am I about to walk into?’”

Rory McIlroy

First Ryder Cup: 2010 at Celtic Manor, Wales

“Once you put the tee in the ground and the ball is on there, it’s a lot easier. Thankfully, it was an easy-enough tee shot [and] it wasn’t like the first tee shot in Paris. Water on the left, crap on the right. It was a driver swing as hard as you can and let it go. It was pretty good.’’

Tommy Fleetwood

First Ryder Cup: 2018 at Le Golf National, Paris

Team Europe's Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood watch the final action during the Foursomes match on day two of the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National, Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, Paris.
Team Europe’s Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood watch the final action during the Foursomes match on day two of the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National, Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, Paris.

“I actually had a nice first-tee Ryder Cup experience. You hear horror stories, don’t you? I felt all right.

I was nervous. We were the last group out and you hear all the roars going through and you see everybody’s tee shot before yours. But when I actually got there, I felt all right. I actually felt pretty good.

Sergio Garcia

First Ryder Cup: 1999 at The Country Club, Brookline, Massachusetts.

“I didn’t hit first. It was foursomes and I played with Jesper [Parnevik] and he hit first, which obviously helped. But I can tell you from three years ago in France, even though it was a 3-iron … with the water on the left and high rough on the right, it’s nerve-racking. Very nervy, no doubt. You want to start well.

“It’s already nervy just because it’s the Ryder Cup. You want to hit a good tee shot. And if you’re playing foursomes you want to put your partner in a good spot. Even if you play one or play none or play 15 Ryder Cups, you still get nervous on the first tee. It’s just the beauty of it. As simple as that.”