Golf is often thought of as an individual sport. It’s a little different when national pride is on the line.
It was a constant theme among the LPGA’s best and brightest stars in the weeks leading up the Solheim Cup: fan support would be key. And, judging by the crowds at the opening round Aug. 16, those words were heeded.
The throngs of fans who arrived to cheer on the United States came decked out from head to toe in red, white and dark blue. They stuck flags and pompons in their caps, painted their faces and proudly wore their nation’s colors.
Joe Smith, who drove from Salt Lake City to the Denver area with his 10-year-old nephew, Tanner, on the Tuesday before Solheim Cup play started, planned ahead. The pair wore USA-themed floppy hats and shirts. During the Aug. 15 practice round, the Smiths kept count of how many people commented on their outfits, and were at 51 by about 3 p.m. It was their first trek to the Solheim Cup.
The European team, meanwhile, enjoyed raucous chants from those who made the trip from the United Kingdom, Spain, Sweden and other lands. They haven’t acted like they are severely outnumbered. They donned the light blue and yellow uniforms worn by the European players, along with crazy wigs, flags and colored glasses.
Coleta Salas, a 23-year-old on holiday from Spain with three friends, decided that the tournament offered an excuse to visit a part of the world she has never seen.
“It was a good chance to come to the U.S. and Colorado,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to see the Rockies. This is a great place to see them from.”
The intense heat that bore down on the Colorado Golf Club in Parker wasn’t enough to quiet the spectators on the first day of competition. Just before the afternoon rounds kicked-off, the stands were packed with fans representing both sides. When the European backers began chanting “Ole! Ole! Ole! Ole!” and reciting the words to “Nah Nah Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye,” the USA fans fought back, drowning them out shouts of “U-S-A!”
Despite being down by two points after the morning session, and trailing early in the afternoon, the U.S. supporters didn’t relent. They yelled words of encouragement to individual players and applauded small victories in the hopes of building momentum.
Aurora resident Nancy Peterson, who made the most of her four-day weekend, thrived off the tense atmosphere and says Team USA’s early deficit only made her cheer louder.
“We’ve got to support our girls out there and show our national pride,” she said, before letting out a loud whoop.