The first tee of any international competition is nerve-wracking. There’s large crowds and the emotions associated with wearing one’s flag. Throw in the youth of most Walker Cup participants and it makes for a downright volatile mixture brewing in players’ stomachs. For proof, consider this story from Rory McIlroy, who faced Dustin Johnson in the first foursomes match at the 2007 Walker Cup. A juiced-up Johnson hit the opening tee shot before the announcer finished calling his name.
Said McIlroy, “He must have had a bit of adrenaline as well because he hit it about 400 yards. I stepped up and I didn’t realize how far he had hit it, and I hit mine and I hit it really good. I was playing in front of a home crowd and I was feeling it. I was pumped up. I hit mine maybe 320, and I get up there and was 60 yards behind him. I was like, hmm, this could be a long day.”