Tiger Woods led from the front today as the United States began preparations for their Ryder Cup defence at Celtic Manor.
World number one Woods, who makes his sixth Ryder Cup appearance this week, received a rousing welcome on the first tee from a sizeable crowd for the opening practice session.
Woods teed off first in an opening American fourball alongside Zach Johnson, Hunter Mahan and Steve Stricker, with Stricker the current favourite to be his partner in Friday’s opening exchanges against Europe.
Woods hit an immaculate first shot a huge distance down the 465-yard opening hole before being pursued by a gallery that was rapidly growing in numbers.
The 34-year-old had earlier offered a “morning guys” to a small group of onlookers as the US team emerged from the Twenty Ten clubhouse ready for official team photographs in front of the 18th green.
Despite steady drizzle on an overcast morning, captain Corey Pavin and his players were in good spirits as they posed in cream sweaters, grey trousers and grey baseball caps.
Woods was followed out on to the course by a second American fourball of Matt Kuchar, Stewart Cink, Jim Furyk and Jeff Overton, before the final quartet comprising world number two Phil Mickelson and three Ryder Cup rookies in Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson swung into action.
With the European players beginning their rounds on the 11th tee, there was plenty of action to keep an impressive first day attendance entertained.