Having a ball! Ryder Cup stars gather for one last knees up at Gala dinner before the action begins
08:20 GMT, 27 September 2012
Before the action begins on Friday, the Ryder Cup stars and their wives were out to open the competition with one last party at Wednesday's gala dinner.
The likes of Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods were in Chicago on Wednesday evening at the event hosted by Justin Timberlake.
The European players and their wives, all adhering to the strict black-tie dress-code, were celebrating alongside the Americans ahead of the greatest team event in the sport.
Ready Europe's Ryder Cup team posed at the gala dinner
Centre stage: Jose Maria Olazabal sat amidst the players' wives at the Akoo Theatre in Chicago
Third wheeling: Rory McIlroy (right) was without his girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki
Although the players were all on good form on Wednesday, come Friday – when the first ball is struck in the foursomes at nearby Medinah – the intense rivalry between the USA and Europe will most certainly come to the fore.
The night’s host, pop star and actor Timberlake, ran through the proceedings and had Woods and McIlroy on stage as well as team captains Jose Maria Olazabal and Davis Love.
The Akoo Theatre was decadently decorated for the occasion, with giant flags of the two competing teams draped over the stage.
The players were also treated to a live performance by American rock band Chicago to help them unwind ahead of the weekend's play.
Happy alone: McIlroy and Tiger Woods were without dates at the dinner
Host for the night: Justin Timberlake (centre) was on stage with Olazabal (right) and Davis Love (left)
Stars on show: Phil Mickelson spent time with fans before heading into the party
All but a few of the golfers had their wives or girlfriends in tow. McIlroy, Woods, Martin Kaymer and Olazabal all posed for their photos on the red carpet alone.
McIlroy was missing his tennis star partner Caroline Wozniacki, who is in Tokyo playing in a tournament.
The world No 11 tennis player jokingly tweeted earlier in the week about a photo involving McIlroy and team-mate Sergio Garcia embracing.
She said: ‘‘What is this @McIlroyRory … Should I be jealous Lol…;)’
The dinner is one of the final formalities the players must endure in a busy pre-tournament schedule.
With crowds of up to 40,000 people attending the tournament daily at Medinah – with only a handful of European supporters – the USA will be sure to get the raucous backing of their supporters over the weekend.
Olazabal's Europeans will be hoping they can ride the partisan storm to defend the trophy they won in dramatic fashion two years ago at Celtic Manor.
Getting cosy: McIlroy's girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki tweeted about this photograph with Sergio Garcia
Live show: American rock band Chicago played for the golfers
Come here, you: Woods and Timberlake embraced when on stage together
On the carpet: Jason and Amanda Dufner (right) and Lee and Laurae Westwood (left)