Fans’ crude buffoonery a product of US longing to be winners again

Rory McIlroy reacts to making a putt on the 8th hole. Picture: Brian Spurlock
Rory McIlroy reacts to making a putt on the 8th hole. Picture: Brian Spurlock
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It’s certainly not right, but are we really surprised? I’m talking, of course, about the behaviour by some fans during the 41st Ryder Cup that led Ian Poulter to claim the individuals in question were “spoiling” the contest.

Let’s not beat about the bush. The abuse aimed at Rory McIlroy, in particular, in the two Saturday sessions crossed that fine line in a team event because, like it or not, the Ryder Cup has developed both a passion and behaviour pattern among opposing supporters that we’re more used to seeing in football.

One comment especially, which was made as Europe’s star player walked between the seventh green and eighth tee, prompted him to stop in his tracks and confront the individual. Rightly so, because, even though players talk about being in the “zone”, they are human and shouldn’t be expected to take comments like that one on the chin.

Admittedly, there were perhaps times when Rory didn’t do himself any favours by roaring like a lion as he and Thomas Pieters won holes, but, in fairness, he did concede that “sometimes emotions run high”.

The idiot who targeted McIlroy in such a vile way was thrown off the premises and he certainly wasn’t the only buffoon in a 50,000 crowd, but they were a very small minority.

In contrast, the fans that cheered as Europeans missed putts or hit wayward shots – McIlroy’s one into the water at the 16th in the afternoon, for example – were very much in the majority and that’s where this Ryder Cup has been way different to any other in the past.

Yes, that sort of thing has started to creep in after the tussle started to become competitive, but it’s now reached a point where it could be in danger of spilling over. If you thought this was a hostile atmosphere for Europe, then wait until we get to Bethpage Black on Long Island in 2024.

What has definitely contributed to what we’ve seen here, though – and here’s why it’s not really a surprise –is Team USA badly wanting, and needing, to get back to winning ways again in this transatlantic tussle.

Apart from Patrick Reed’s fireworks on the course, they’ve not really been fired up by the home players in any other way. In fact, Davis Love and his players deserve nothing but credit for trying to defuse situations out on the course.

This has been about some people losing perspective and others losing their minds. Normality will hopefully be restored in France in two years’ time but this, unfortunately, is probably what we can continue to expect for Europe on US soil.