What made the first tee shots so special

CHASKA, Minn. -- It's not the noise that's so jarring on the first tee of the Ryder Cup. No, you expect that. Even without the familiar U-shaped bleachers surrounding the perimeter, you know it's going to be loud.

On this brisk Minnesota morning, it started predictably early. The American fans were just behind the tee, leading chants in their red, white and blue hockey jerseys and Viking-horn hats.

The European fans, down the left side, were singing songs and dancing, head-to-toe in blue and gold outfits, topped by tam-o'-shanter caps and completed with matching socks pulled to the knees.

More frenzied than a football game, more anticipatory than a rock concert, more rollicking than a roller coaster, the atmosphere on the first tee resembles no other.

The underlying tone for each faction of fans is something to the effect of: We want to beat you, but, really, we're just here to have a good time; but no, seriously, we'll only have a good time if we beat you.

And so they sing and chant, and chant and sing. Back and forth, like a tennis rally of vigorous hopefulness bouncing from one end of the tee to the next.

On Friday, they even cheered together. With the Ryder Cup golf bag of the late Arnold Palmer standing alone on the ground below, the supporters from both sides saluted their fallen hero in unison: "AR-NOLD PAL-MER! AR-NOLD PAL-MER!" It was enough to give your goosebumps the chills.

But that wasn't the most jolting part of the festivities. None of the noise was. No, it was the silence.

For the 10 seconds before each of the eight tee shots in the opening foursomes session, the noise didn't lessen. It didn't die down or dwindle. It stopped.

Dead silence. From raucous bellowing to not a single trickle of sound floating through the air, as if it was all swallowed up by a vacuum. It was like stepping out of a keg party and into a church.

That's why Justin Rose, who hit the very first tee shot of the morning, said beforehand: "It's a moment to try and enjoy the best you can. It's clearly nerve-wracking and it's not a moment you can really prepare for. Just expect to be nervous, get it airborne and forward."

Ryder Cup year after Ryder Cup year, player after player, this opening tee shot is considered the most harrowing, stressful shot in tournament golf.

The dichotomy between the boisterous celebration before each drive and the deafening silence during them, combined with the enormity of the moment, is enough to make the surest ball-striker start shaking. At some point, though, they have to swing.

And as soon as the clubface makes contact, as soon as the ball starts its ascension into the sky, the party starts up again.

The American fans, borrowing an anthem from their soccer brethren, chanted Friday: I believe; I believe that we; I believe that we will win.

To which one of the blue-and-gold-clad European fans invariably responded as a solo: I believe that WE will win.

Then there are the songs -- and let's make one thing very apparent: When it comes to lyrics, the Europeans have already closed out the match.

They sang individual songs for every single player. "Kaymer Chameleon" (parodying Culture Club's "Karma Chameleon") for Martin Kaymer. To the tune of "That's Amore," they sang, "That's Garcia." And "Hey Lee" for Lee Westwood, mimicking The Beatles' "Hey Jude".

Even Darius Rucker, who was hanging out inside the ropes at the tee, smiled and acknowledged the phrasing, if not the melody.

From keg party to church and back again. Eight times Friday morning, as the foursomes matches made their way to their first tee, each player battling some level of nerves.

It was wild. It was raucous. It was eerily silent, then wild and raucous again. As we witnessed once again, there isn't another scene like it in golf.