It’s been a good week for American fans and a bad week for American fans.
The Good: The U.S. leads the Ryder Cup by three points heading into Sunday at Hazeltine National Golf Club.
The Bad: Home fan behavior has been outrageous and is gradually deteriorating further as the week goes on.
Need proof? How about during the first day of the Ryder Cup, when Danny Willett was mercilessly heckled for comments HIS BROTHER MADE. His experience hasn’t gotten any better throughout the week.
Sergio Garcia has been constantly harassed, too, as has Rory McIlroy. It got so bad for McIlroy that he had a fan ejected Saturday, for good reason.
Yes, this is the Ryder Cup, and heckling is to be expected. But we seem to be crossing into a new realm here.
When NBC’s Jimmy Roberts asked McIlroy Saturday evening if the crowd’s behavior was spirited, tough, over the line or ugly, here was the Northern Irishman’s response…
“Probably a combination of all of those,” McIlroy said.”I think there’s been some boundaries over stepped on.”
And he’s being backed up by Garcia, the European player who probably has the most expertise on American heckling considering his extensive Ryder Cup experience and his being a longtime foil to the American crowds at this event.
“They have been quite poor. I’m not going to lie,” Garcia said. “Obviously it’s unfortunate because I think that 85 percent of the people are great and I love playing in America. My girlfriend is American. But that 15 percent that is really bad, it makes them look bad.”
Indeed, it does.
The only saving grace for American fans is that European captain Darren Clarke, while also echoing his player’s sentiments, doesn’t see the heckling as indicative of the whole (or majority) of the American crowd.
“Yeah, you know, it’s disappointing,” Clarke said. “But I think you have 99.99 percent of the crowd out there that are wonderfully respectful. They are patriotic, yes, but they are wonderfully respectful.
“You’re always going to have one or two idiots that say the wrong thing at the wrong time, and, unfortunately, that’s happened. But, overall, the fans have been absolutely superb to us. And it’s unfortunate, you’re just going to run into people like that now and again that say the wrong thing at the wrong time and the wrong place.”
To some American fans, this may feel like a victory because they are getting to the Europeans.
It would certainly be a hollow victory if that were the case.
But actually, the European complaints may be misleading in a way. Yes, the heckles are bad and they’re having an adverse effect on the Euros’ play… in a good way.
In the end, the harassment has only emboldened the Europeans, and if you’re a U.S. fan and want to avoid another European comeback Sunday, maybe it’s best to keep your mouth shut.
“(The heckling) fueled me a lot,” said McIlroy, who is 3-1 this week and faces Patrick Reed in the opening match of Sunday singles. “The more they shouted, the better we played. So I hope they shout at us all day (Sunday).”