BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- Vijay Singh and Mike Weir provided a preview of the Ryder Cup, even though neither will be playing at Oakland Hills this week.
There was deafening noise, so loud that Weir had to force a yawn to pop his ears when he got to the tee.
The pressure was so great that Weir felt the weight of a nation riding on his every shot at the Canadian Open, where some 40,000 fans were eager to celebrate one of their own claiming the championship for the first time in 50 years.
Crowds were so partisan that they could not stifle cheers when Singh missed a putt.
''You understand that's part of it,'' Singh said after spoiling the party with his playoff victory Sunday.
And that's a big part of the Ryder Cup, which gets under way Friday in a biennial match that transforms the sport from genteel appreciation of good golf to a football mentality of ''Us versus Them.''
Ten players have no idea what to expect, as the United States and Europe each have five Ryder Cup rookies.
All have heard the stories.
-- Raucous cheering drowning out the groans amid Bernhard Langer's agony when he missed a 6-foot putt on the final hole of the final match, allowing the United States to win in 1991 at Kiawah Island.
-- Sam Torrance with arms raised after making the putt at The Belfry in 1985 to end U.S. dominance and give Europe its first victory in 28 years.
-- And the scene no one wants repeated but everyone will never forget, when Justin Leonard holed a 45-foot putt on the 17th hole at Brookline five years ago that caused players to sprint across the green in celebration while the match was still in progress.
How intense does it get?
''The only thing that stands still is the shaft of the club, and that's before you take the club out of the bag,'' two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal once said. ''Everything shakes -- hands, legs, everything. That's how it is. That's what makes it so special.''
Monday was as quiet as it will get all week at Oakland Hills.
Phil Mickelson, who had his worst 72 holes of the year at the Canadian Open (7-over 291), arrived in the Detroit area Sunday night and was the first player at Oakland Hills on a day when the course was not opened to the public. Jim Furyk and Fred Funk arrived later for some casual practice.
The European team left Heathrow Airport in London aboard a Virgin Atlantic flight -- complete with beauty attendants to give them a massage -- and arrived just after 5 p.m. Monday. Langer, the European captain, cleared customs with the 19-inch trophy in hand.
''What is this you have here?'' U.S. captain Hal Sutton said after greeting him.
''Just a little something.'' Langer said. 'We'll fight for it the next few days.''
The shiny gold trophy was passed around during the flight.
''It was everywhere on the plane,'' Langer said. ''We took some memorable pictures. It was nice to have it in my grasp.''
Langer has reason to believe his team can capture the Ryder Cup for the seventh time in the last 10 matches, even though the Americans again look stronger on paper.
One of his captain's picks, Luke Donald, won the European Masters two weeks ago for his second victory in two months. Padraig Harrington, the highest-ranked player in Europe, picked up his first victory of the year Sunday at the German Masters.
''For the first time, I think we are going over there not so much as underdogs,'' Colin Montgomerie said as the team left London. ''Of course, it will be difficult -- don't get me wrong. Playing away from home is always harder. At the same time, I'll be very, very disappointed if we don't bring back what we're taking with us.''
Donald wasn't on the plane. He only had a short drive from Chicago where he lives. This was the first time Langer has seen his entire 12-man team together.
Tiger Woods, who lost his No. 1 ranking two weeks ago for the first time in five years, held a corporate clinic about 20 miles from Oakland Hills on Monday.
The U.S. team was not expected to meet until a 7 p.m. dinner.
Five of the American rookies are hardly fresh-faced kids. They include 44-year-old Kenny Perry and the 47-year-old Funk, both of whom played in the Presidents Cup in South Africa last year against an International team comprised of players from everywhere in the world except Europe.
The International team was stronger than anything Europe can muster, with players like Singh, Weir, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen. The golf was at a higher level than usually seen in the Ryder Cup.
What the Presidents Cup is lacking is the sheer passion of playing under the flag of a single continent, the 77 years of history and over-the-top expectations built up by the British press.
It has been two years since the Ryder Cup was last played -- a 15 1/2-12 1/2 victory for Europe at The Belfry -- but there was another reminder of what the matches are all about last week in Canada.
Singh closed within one shot of Weir until the Fijian three-putted on the 15th, and a cheer rang out when his putt slid by on the right. His caddie, Dave Renwick, was so offended that he tossed the ball into the crowd.
Singh understood the scene.
''They were not cheering against me, they were cheering for Mike. There's a big difference there,'' he said. ''Although on 15 when I missed the putt, they all got excited.''
He was gracious in victory -- a good lesson for the Americans and Europeans come Sunday -- and noted that there is only one winner in golf. Given the intensity and the pressure of Ryder Cup week, that's a tough reality.
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