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Thursday, 26 September 2002
The 34th Ryder Cup Matches are officially underway, following a colourful and spectacular opening ceremony at The De Vere Belfry.

Under clear blue skies, the European and American teams were introduced to the huge crowds by respective Team Captains Sam Torrance and Curtis Strange before the pairings for Friday morning’s opening fourball session were revealed.

Both men reiterated the need for healthy and fair competition and in many ways the opening ceremony mirrored a range of emotions we will surely see again on the fairways and greens of The Brabazon Course over the three days of competition.

We had humour, as 86 year old Max Faulkner, who played in five Ryder Cups between 1947 and 1957, gently reminded Master of Ceremonies Renton Laidlaw that it was the OBE he had been awarded last year not the MBE as the Golf Channel commentator had suggested.

We had sadness, as a perfectly observed minute’s silence let everyone reflect on why the Matches had been postponed for a year, a silence brought to an end by the haunting sound of a lone piper playing Amazing Grace.

We had colour, both from the immaculately dressed wives and girlfriends of the team members to the sight of the national flags fluttering on the breeze high atop the flagpoles.

We had entertainment, firstly from the red-jacketed brass band of the Prince of Wales Division to the pipes and drums of the Nottinghamshire Police Pipe Band who led the players into the arena, providing a nice touch for home Captain and Scot Sam Torrance with their choice of opening tune, namely Scotland the Brave.

But most importantly we had a reminder of just what a wonderful sport the game of golf is and what a truly international occasion The Ryder Cup Matches have become.

Beautifully edited film footage, from grainy black and white images of the early Matches to the technical wizardry which caught every grimace and grin at Brookline in 1999, was interspersed with interviews featuring the greatest players the game has known.

As well as the recorded words of legends such as Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, there were live interviews with Brian Barnes, Nick Faldo, Bernard Gallacher, Tony Jacklin and Faulkner, all of whom graced this contest from the 1950s through to the 1990s.

They have all played their part in Ryder Cup history but, as the sun began to set, all turned their gaze to the stage and in particular to the 24 men who will write the next chapter of this wonderful story.

As Sam Torrance said to the crowds: “We cannot wait for the action to get started and I am sure you cannot either.”

Hear, hear. Let’s play golf.

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