Luke Donald tells European Ryder Cup fans: 'Be loud but not spiteful or angry'

European captain Luke Donald wants the home fans to be “loud” at next year’s Ryder Cup in Italy but is confident they won’t resort to the sort of verbal abuse evident in the 2021 match at Whistling Straits.

In the aftermath of that encounter, which produced a record 19-9 win for the Americans, Shane Lowry talked about how his wife, Wendy, was the subject of verbal abuse from boisterous home fans at the Wisconsin venue.

“I didn't think it was that bad until I asked my wife what it was like for her, and they got dog’s abuse,” said Lowry. “They are obviously a home crowd and they are going to be a partisan crowd. But some of the stuff is not very nice. Some people are idiots, especially when they drink.”

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Matches in Europe have never had any real issues on the spectator front and Donald said he has no concerns about that changing when the event is held in Italy for the first time at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club outside Rome.

Team Captains Luke Donald of England and Zach Johnson of The United States pose for a photograph with the Ryder Cup Trophy at the Colosseum during the Ryder Cup 2023 Year to Go Media Event on October 04, 2022 in Rome.
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“I want them to be loud and very supportive,” said the Englishman, speaking at this week’s Year to Go event in the Italian capital. “There's no room for being spiteful or angry or hurtful to the opposing teams.

“We want to win the right way, and that's what the Ryder Cup is based on. So certainly disencourage any kind of bad behavior from the crowd. I don't see that happening very often in Europe. To be honest, I think they will be fully behind us.”

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There is nothing in the captains’ agreement for the biennial event that covers what happens outside the ropes and Donald doesn’t see the need for that.

“You can't control the crowd,” he added. “There's always going to be certain individuals, but I think 99 per cent of crowds on both sides (of the Atlantic), to be honest, are well behaved. Just one or two guys have had a couple too many beers and get a little bit of confidence. That's just part of it.”

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Including practice rounds, the aim is for 280,000 spectators to attend the 2023 match, which would surpass the 270,000 for the 2018 encounter at Le Golf National in France.

“I did not experience that or witness that,” said Zach Johnson, Donald’s opposite number, of Padraig Harrington, Europe’s captain at Whistling Straits, highlighting some of the abuse aimed at his players. “It's sad to hear that what Pádraig said is actually true. I'm not justifying it, but you're talking about the smallest part of the fandom.

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“What I appreciate about this cup is regardless where it's played, the fans make it. That's one of the reasons why we postponed from 2020 to ‘21 (due to the Covid pandemic). I can't envision it without the fans.

“It's been documented, even in medal play, The Open Championship, I love the fans here (in Europe). They are passionate, obviously, but there's almost like an intelligence fact, like they understand sport. Not that Americans do not, but it's just different and I love the difference because it would be pretty mundane if everybody was the same.

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“It's going to be harder over here because of the fans. They are going to cheer and they are going to push their team and boo us, and that's okay. That's sport.

“That's taking a team going from a hostile environment, an opponent, and bringing them into a hostile environment, that's part of sports. You can throw the records, rankings aside, and I love it.”

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