Saturday 24 March 2018

Rory McIlroy happy to get one up on the Ryder Cup crowd

Rory McIlroy felt he quietened the crowd on the second morning of the Ryder Cup
Rory McIlroy felt he quietened the crowd on the second morning of the Ryder Cup

Rory McIlroy felt he and Thomas Pieters won their battle with the crowd on the second morning of the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine.

McIlroy, one of the European team's key men, described the atmosphere as a "hostile environment" at the end of the first day's action in Minnesota.

In Saturday morning's foursomes he and Pieters defied some booing, occasional heckling and fierce partisan support for the United States to beat Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler 4&2.

One of the worst incidents came on the seventh green as one fan yelled "hit it in the water" as Pieters stood over a putt.

McIlroy said: "You just need to quieten them as much as possible and we felt once we got up on the front nine they weren't as vocal and they weren't as behind the players. That's what you have to do.

"One of the biggest things for us is to get off to good starts and don't let them get any momentum."

Fowler fired up the crowd with a superb putt at the first green but Pieters responded to halve the hole and then put a finger to his lips in a hushing gesture.

Pieters said: "The first putt was big just to quieten them a little bit because they were so loud after Rickie made that putt on one.

"But it's only golf. You just have to hit good shots at good moments, and that's all it takes."

An announcement was made at the first tee for fans to be respectful and McIlroy felt, on the whole, supporters did not overstep the mark.

The Northern Irishman made clear his disapproval of the heckler on the seventh by throwing a steely glare at the crowd after Pieters holed, but supporters also booed after that remark.

McIlroy said: "It's a great atmosphere and it seems like we're playing it in the right spirit. It's very competitive out on the golf course but it's still respectful."

McIlroy showed his emotion with an exuberant celebration and by bowing to the crowd after winning a point on Friday evening.

Some critics suggested he may have been goading the supporters but American captain Davis Love had no issue with it.

Love said: "It is all in good fun. I bowed to Rory myself on the range this morning!"

Press Association

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