Ryder Cup: Where flag-waving wives are treated like stars

    Story highlights

    • CNN takes a look at golf's Ryder Cup through the eyes of Sanna Hanson
    • Hanson is wife of Peter who was on victorious European teams in 2010 and 2012
    • Just as the players have an itinerary so do the wives and girlfriends
    A spot of shopping, the odd spa day and some serious flag waving.
    For seven days every few years the women behind the 24 men that do battle on the golf course for Europe and the United States step inside the Ryder Cup vortex.
    It is a whirlwind of screaming galleries, snazzy uniforms, fist pumps and ,quite often, tears and tantrums too.
    Behind it all are the wives and girlfriends of the players -- dubbed WAGs by the press -- comforting, cajoling, and forming their own unit within a unit.
    "Absolutely, it's like a little team on the side," Sanna Hanson, wife of Swedish two-time Ryder Cup winner, Peter Hanson, told CNN of the bond between the Europeans WAGs.
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    "I'm not that competitive, so I don't really care if I talk to an American wife or European wife but I think some of them are competitive and think 'We're going to stay on our side.'
    "Maybe it was more like that before but I think it is getting more and more friendly because a lot of the European players are over here (in the U.S.) a lot so everybody sees each other more often."
    For all concerned, it is a week unlike any other in the season.
    No longer are the players or their partners operating as lone wolves.
    In the Ryder Cup they are playing not just for their captain, their teammates and supporters in the grandstand, but also respective populations of over 700 million people.
    In such a high pressure environment, where players are the treated like rock stars, egos go out of the window and the team is absolute.
    "The Ryder Cup is special; hectic, fun, amazing. Even though I'm just a wife I'm treated like a star!" Hanson explained.
    "It's really different -- you are there for the team, everything is focused on that. You are taken care of in a totally different way.
    "It's such an amazing atmosphere -- everything is built towards the first day and the first tee off -- then you're on the train and you just go."
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    But it's not just the players that have a detailed itinerary, so do the WAGs.
    The expression WAGs was coined by the English tabloids to describe the partners of the country's football team during the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
    As well as accompanying their partners to the opening and closing ceremonies, there are various functions to attend a alongside their U.S. counterparts.
    "You go for lunch, there is the gala dinner, they arrange spa days and last year they had a shopping thing too," Sanna explained.
    "If they need something then we can help because it's such a busy week for the players, and that starts the first day of the tournament.
    "When the players have quiet time it's important they can have quiet time, but sometimes they maybe only get half an hour before dinner."
    Hanson's husband Peter is a six-time European Tour winner who has amassed over $18 million in prize money over a 15-year career.
    The Swede played in three of the five tournament sessions on his Ryder Cup debut in Wales in 2010, as Europe regained the trophy thanks to a 14½ to 13½ victory.
    But last time out in 2012, at Medinah in Chicago, the 36-year-old only played in one of the four sessions on Friday and Saturday as the U.S. raced into a commanding 10-6 lead.
    "The Ryder Cup is amazing and exciting, but it is a lot of things -- for Peter he didn't play as much as he was hoping, so then you're cheering for him to play," Sanna said.
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    "There's so many feelings in the whole match. The most important thing is that the team wins, nobody really cares who is playing as long as the team wins.
    "I think it's really good to have your own team there -- Peter had his coach there too, so he feels there is someone standing next to him when it's not as good as he hoped it to be. If you were on your own that would be harder.
    "When the team wins then you forget all about those things. It goes so quickly, that is how it is with matchplay. That's the funny thing with those match events -- it always goes up and down. You have to be prepared for everything.
    "If Peter wasn't playing I went along with the other wives and we were cheering together. That's a really nice experience as well -- we have to stay together when the guys are so busy. It brings us closer."
    Europe staggered into Sunday's singles last time out, having been unable to stem the flow of a vibrant U.S. team.
    It was only thanks to Englishman Ian Poulter's virtuoso performance in the last pairs match on Saturday that Europe managed to give themselves a glimmer of hope on the final day.
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    But with European captain Jose Maria Olazabal frontloading his line-up, soon the board had turned blue and those in stars and stripes began to sniff an upset.
    As one of the most dramatic days in the competition unfolded, Europe clawed their way back into contention, every drive, chip and putt executed as if it was the last.
    Hanson was four down at one point in his match with 2013 U.S. PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner, battling back to ensure it went down to the final hole.
    "You hear roars all around the course, but you're so caught up in your own game for a little while," Sanna explained.
    "Peter didn't win but I think it was good with his match that it went pretty far. I think it helped the others a little.
    "Then it was so exciting to go from game to game with the others and everyone doing so well. It's just so amazing, you've got butterflies in your whole body. I'm happy I didn't have to play!
    "There's so much going on, so many people, everyone wants to win, and there are so many feelings -- the audience, the players and the coaches.
    "The party was great -- all the players were so exhausted so we had a few that didn't need to drink too much! The Americans were really disappointed -- it was really tough for them."
    The Hansons' first Ryder Cup experience was in 2010 at Celtic Manor.
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    Under the stewardship of Colin Montgomerie, Hanson got his first point on the board as a Ryder Cup player as he and Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez defeated two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton in their fourballs contest.
    And the ferocity of competition didn't disappoint.
    "Peter had been told it is super different from anything else you've done and he agreed," Sanna said.
    "Just standing there watching on the first tee with all the fans cheering, is such an amazing experience, then standing inside the ropes is unbelievable. It's really nerve racking.
    "I was super nervous when he was teeing off but that was a special moment. It was such a happy and proud moment to stand there and be able to be a part of it."
    Though Hanson didn't make the team this time around, he and Sanna will be watching when Europe defends its crown at Gleneagles in Scotland.
    "If you've been to one Ryder Cup you will always miss it if you are not there," she said.
    "Even though he realized a long time ago he would not be able to qualify for the team, of course when you have been there you always want to go back."