Tuesday 25 October 2016

Comment: Questions need to be asked when there are fans drinking beer at 7am at the Ryder Cup

The behaviour of some American fans needs to be urgently addressed

James Corrigan

Published 03/10/2016 | 02:30

American vice-captain Bubba Watson cheers with fans in the grandstand. Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
American vice-captain Bubba Watson cheers with fans in the grandstand. Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

When the European Tour and PGA of America conduct their biennial review of the Ryder Cup there can be no doubt that crowd behaviour - or, more to the point, crowd misbehaviour - will be high up on their agenda.

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In fact, it will probably only bow to how much lovely greenback has been made to help keep those bodies afloat.

There were too many times out there when Hazeltine became "Hates-eltine", and it will seem to many looking on that something must be done.

But apart from one obvious change, it is difficult to decide what exactly is feasible and what could endanger the famously cherished 'unique atmosphere' of the event; that X-factor which makes it the biggest week in golf with audience numbers which even the Masters and Open do not get close to emulating.

The one rule they should bring in is: no drinking until at least lunchtime.

You have seen them here in the grandstands at the first tee, drinking cans at 7.0 as they wait for the action to begin. With DJs employed to whip up the crowd, adrenalin is prone to reach parts of the body where it really should not at that ungodly time of the morning. By 8.30 here I have seen queues at the beer stalls - and by the looks of them it was not the first.

Dog-legless was the word which has sprung to mind.

They show off, egging each other on. The young man who shouted "go suck a d***, Rory" at McIlroy on Saturday had clearly not been at the Starbucks all day.

In short, the urge to instil passion, mixed with the urge to sell alcohol in vast quantities, is the best method possible by which to identify those 'few silly individuals'.

But be clear, there were more than the 'silly few' here, and walking around one was to realise that the 'there's always one' debate is lame. There were wholesale boos on occasion for European players - and in golf that is unacceptable.

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What is and is not acceptable at the Ryder Cup is at the heart of this dilemma - and that is what the powers-that-be must address.

I have no issue with fans cheering missed putts. They are there to cheer on their country and to expect them to show complete respect in moments of triumph is unrealistic. But be quiet when players are over the ball, do not be personal, do not use an irrelevance - such as a satirical column by one of the player's brothers - as an excuse for being a lout.

One columnist wrote off the significance of the hecklers here, comparing it to football, whose competitors have to put up with much worse. Fine. Why can't the supporters who get kicks out of such barracking go to football and leave golf alone? It has long been a part of football; it has not been, and should not be, in golf.

Let us be clear, this is essentially an American problem that has come back since supposedly being exorcised at Brookline in 1999.

In the last three matches in the US, I have seen Lee Westwood's mother being abused, Justin Rose being taunted about his dead father, and I have listened to more bellowed put-downs containing curses than I could count.

And in Europe? Well, as Bob Harig, ESPN's golf correspondent, put it: "Getting lots of 'don't they do it in Europe?' Best example: Not a single report of Tiger (Woods) getting abuse in 2010."

Less than 10 months before that match at Celtic Manor, Woods had become embroiled in a sex scandal which had wrecked his world, and he still was.

And not one heckle? It is time for America to clean up their backyard. (© Daily Telegraph, London)


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