Ryder Cup crowd abuse: The shocked reaction of spoiled European whingers shows that they need to toughen up
Family’s always embarrassing, isn’t it?
Danny Willett teed off at the Ryder Cup burdened not just by the pressure of representing his, erm, continent, but with his brother’s wind-up column weighing him down as well. As it turned out, he had a terrible three days or “s**”, in his own words, unable to register a point in his three matches.
Danny, though, hasn’t been prepared to let it lie: he tweeted on Monday that “unfortunately some American fans showed that PJ Willett was in fact correct. Nothing to blame my bad play on.. But still shows that sometimes fans don't know when to call it a day.. Shame really!!”
When you’ve been soundly beaten, as Danny was, five and four in his four ball on Friday, narrowly in his Saturday four-ball, and thumpingly again in the singles on Sunday, it’s sometimes better to say nothing at all. Instead, he has raised the crowd’s bad behaviour again. It’s all very well saying that you’re not using it as an excuse, but… it sounds like you are using it as an excuse.
Besides, was the crowd abuse that the European team received really all that bad? Compared to the vitriol dished out by football crowds, it looks pretty tame stuff. They are, after all, only golf fans: grown men dressed up in head-to-toe Stars and Stripes merchandise, pudgy Full Kit Winkers shouting “get in the woods” at you as you are surrounded by as many security guards at the average US Presidential detail.
As nasty sports fans go, it’s hardly like being ambushed by 150 knife-wielding Millwall hooligans in a deserted Bermondsey railway underpass, is it?
It feels to me like the shocked reaction of spoilt young men who temporarily had a short break from everyone respectfully telling them how wonderful they are. An experience that they do not wish to repeat.
Even compared to other sportspeople, golfers lead a gilded existence, hermetically sealed off from the world as they shuttle around from seven-star hotel to seven-star hotel playing on these beautiful courses where the great unwashed are kept away by fences and guards.
So some people were nasty to you. So what? We live in an era where people are encouraged to express their every thought as if it had any value. People believe that they have paid their money and are entitled to enjoy themselves as they see fit, and if that means making the odd nasty comment to Rory McIlroy then, well, he’s a big, exceptionally well-paid boy, and that is their right. If they go too far, they get thrown out. And when you’re good at doing something, the opinions of rank amateurs or the paying customers about your skills mean nothing at all. Empty noise. If any of these golfers actually care what knuckleheads who couldn’t hit a drive to save their life think, then they are in the wrong job.
The boorish, vulgar and nasty behaviour of the American fans is, in the greater scheme of things, still very tame stuff. But it is what makes the Ryder Cup what it is. The organisers know that: it’s what gives the event its spice and makes it a hell of a lot more watchable than the usually prissy, polite competitions. For 727 days every two years, the likes of Danny Willett are surrounded by people telling them how brilliant they are: three days of the occasional taunt and they’re crying foul? A bit of booing more often might toughen some of these guys up.