Golf: Reed asks US fans not to punish Willett for brother's remarks, while Mickelson apologises

Danny Willett signs autographs for fans during practice prior to the Ryder Cup on Sept 29, 2016.
Danny Willett signs autographs for fans during practice prior to the Ryder Cup on Sept 29, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

CHASKA, United States (AFP) - Patrick Reed asked US Ryder Cup supporters on Thursday (Sept 29) not to punish Europe's Danny Willett for insults made by his brother while Phil Mickelson apologised for igniting a captaincy controversy.

The 41st biennial men's team golf showdown between Europe and the Americans starts Friday at Hazeltine with US players trying to snap a record three-Cup losing streak.

Willett, the reigning Masters champion from England and one of six Ryder Cup newcomers on Europe's squad, apologised on Wednesday for comments by his brother Pete on a European golf website insulting American golf fans.

Pete Willett called them "fat, stupid, greedy, classless b*****ds" as well as a "baying mob of imbeciles" and "a giggling group of reprobates."

Danny Willett apologised hoping to calm matters and Reed, known for shushing European fans with finger to lips in his 2014 Cup debut at Gleneagles, more or less tried to silence any US fans who might abuse Willett over remarks he never knew were coming.

"There's a saying that I've really lived by. It's forgive and forget," Reed said.

"It's unfortunate that something was said, and not actually from Danny. This is his first Ryder Cup and it's such a special and awesome moment. To have something distract you from enjoying your first moment, it's unfortunate."

Reed said he heard Willett's family was so embarrassed they were considering flying home and said, "That just can't happen."

"He might not have said some great things. But at the end of the day, I'm hoping the fans and people can put that aside and allow the rookies, not only on our side but on their side, to enjoy it and somehow forgive and forget and allow Danny to enjoy the week.

"It's one of these things. It hasn't affected us in any way. I hope the best for Danny and the family and hope they actually enjoy the week and that our fans don't just completely annihilate them."

World number two Dustin Johnson, the reigning US Open champion, admitted he hadn't seen the comments and as a team, "We haven't really been talking about it."

Loose talk got Mickelson in trouble on Wednesday when he excoriated 2004 US Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton for pairing him with Tiger Woods in alternate shot when their balls have greatly different spin levels and with relatively short notice to try and solve the problem.

Sutton fired back, saying he was willing to continue taking the blame for Mickelson's poor play alongside Woods 12 years ago and Mickelson responded Thursday by apologising personally to him.

"I made him feel awkward and I feel really sorry about that," Mickelson said. "I feel awful that I created that negativity. I was totally in the wrong. I never should have brought that up."