The final day of Ryder Cup practice rounds at Whistling Straits brought tens of thousands of fans who packed the grand stands, walked the course’s rugged terrain, and braved a brief afternoon rain shower.
Thursday began with a celebrity match featuring some Wisconsin sports notables like former Green Bay Packer A.J. Hawk, U.S. Olympic gold medalist speedskater Dan Jansen, and former Milwaukee Buck Toni Kukoc. Then, Team Europe and Team U.S.A. took to the course for nine holes of practice, drawing chants and cheers from a rowdy crowd along the way.
The day culminated in an opening ceremony, marking the official start of the 43rd Ryder Cup. All spectators were invited to attend. Milwaukee Bucks in-game host Melanie Ricks and DJ Shawna warmed up the crowd before comedian Rob Riggle took the stage as emcee. Team captains Steve Stricker and Pádraig Harrington spoke about the journey to the Ryder Cup, introduce their teams and announced Friday morning foursomes. Fans from both teams showed their patriotism by waving flags and competing in chants.
Herb Kohler, executive chairman of Kohler Co., was also recognized during the ceremony for his vision to create Whistling Straits with the late great golf course designer Pete Dye. Kohler sat front and center with his wife Natalie Black and son David Kohler, CEO of Kohler Co. and his wife Nina Brookhart.
Competition match play began early Friday morning, with final singles rounds set for Sunday. The global event is expected to bring 45,000 people to Whistling Straits each day and generate $135 million in economic impact to the region.