It will eventually die down but not quite yet. Twenty-four hours after Danny Willett continued to fuel the fire, Martin Kaymer also kept the pot stirring over the abuse aimed at Europe’s Ryder Cup players at Hazeltine by claiming the behaviour of some US fans was witnessed by young children.
“Ninety-five per cent of the crowd were fine,” said Kaymer, the man who helped silence the home crowd in 2012 as Europe pulled off their ‘Miracle at Medinah’, nervelessly holing the putt to ensure a successful defence of the little gold trophy in Chicago. “But there are just some idiots in the crowd and I just find it amazing that they are standing there with their children in their hands and they say things that you think, ‘that’s your child next to you, what role model are you?’. It’s a bit shocking sometimes, the comments you hear.”
One of the comments heard by Rory McIlroy in the Saturday afternoon fourballs led Europe’s star player to confront the fan responsible and that individual was duly ejected. Before play started on the final day, fans were warned that a “zero tolerance” policy was being implemented in a bid to curb bad behaviour, but Willett revealed on Tuesday that his parents had been the target of abuse, which stemmed from his brother’s anti-American comments in the build-up to the event in Minnesota.
Like McIlroy, Kaymer is confident that there will be no hint of retaliation from the European fans towards the American players when the next match takes place at Le Golf National in France in two years’ time.
“It doesn’t really happen in Europe,” insisted the two-time major winner after carding a one-under par 71 at Carnoustie in the opening round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship . “Some guys were saying, ‘it’s the same for us when they come to Europe’, but it’s not true.
“There were names that we got called that you would never, ever put in your mouth in any media or even among your friends. I think you just need to escort those people off the property as quickly as possible and we keep on playing golf.”
With Johan Rupert, chairman of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship commitee, as his pro-am partner, Martin Pieters didn’t disappointment the new fans he’s gained after becoming Europe’s most successful Ryder Cup rookie with four points out of five, particularly when opening his shoulders to drive the green at the 407-yard seventh.
“More than I expected and more than last week,” said the Belgian of his group attracting the biggest crowd of the day at the Angus venue. “It’s also nice that everybody is on my side here. I’m still very tired mentally and had an interesting start when I shanked my 4-iron on the 10th but got up and down from a hundred yards. It was a weird way to open the championship. But, from then on, I was pretty pretty solid. Being this tired, I feel very happy actually with the score.”
Rafael Cabrera-Bello, who is being partnered by Dermot Desmond, Celtic’s majority shareholder and a regular in this event, echoed that view after carding four birdies.
“I’m still a little bit tired from last week, but I enjoyed it,” said the Spaniard, who picked up two-and-a-half points from three matches in the 17-11 defeat in Minnesota. “Dermot and I have become very good friends over the last few years, so it was nice to play with him again.”
Playing in the same group, Willett and Lee Westwood signed for 74s at Carnoustie, where Matt Fizpatrick had a 77. Willett said it had been “good fun” to have Jonathan Smart as his playing partner for a change instead of caddying for him. “It’s going to be a long, tiring week, but, fortunately, we get to come out and play a tournament with our pals, and we had a good laugh today,” said the Masters champion.