Willett says family abused by American fans

Englishman Danny Willett reveals that his Ryder Cup debut was ruined by abusive hecklers at Hazeltine.
Englishman Danny Willett reveals that his Ryder Cup debut was ruined by abusive hecklers at Hazeltine.

LONDON • Danny Willett has revealed how his wife and parents were victims of the abusive heckling he was subjected to during his Ryder Cup debut last week.

The US Masters champion became public enemy No. 1 for some home supporters at the Hazeltine course in Minnesota after his brother Pete wrote an article severely criticising the behaviour of American golf crowds.

Willett, 29, quickly apologised for his brother's remarks, which included the accusation that US fans were a "braying mob of imbeciles".

But that did not stop Willett from receiving verbal abuse throughout the three-day event.

Afterwards the Englishman, who did not win a point as the USA beat Europe 17-11, tweeted: "Unfortunately some american fans showed that @P-J-Willett was in fact correct".

On Wednesday, Willett revealed the full extent of the abuse he had encountered.

"You've got 150 to 200,000 fans there that love watching golf but unfortunately you've got the odd one or two that don't actually go there to watch golf, which is a shame," he said.

"But I don't think that's ever going to stop. We got a taste of it last week, being in America with the fans and how they push on to help their team win.

"When you're walking round a golf event week to week, everyone's fantastic. You pitch up and play a normal golf event anywhere in the world and the fans are great.

"But I don't think you should be walking round while people are saying things to your parents and saying things to your wife. I don't think that's our sport, that's not what Europe play for.

"Unfortunately that happened and unfortunately it put a bit of a downer on what was supposed to be my first good experience of the Ryder Cup."

Willett, however, apologised for the tone of his post-closing ceremony comment when asked how he could sum up the experience of his debut at the biennial event.

"S**t," he said.

Asked to elaborate, he replied: "Really s**t."

Willett tried to explain those comments on Wednesday by saying: "It's difficult when you have a press conference straight afterwards as the emotion is running high. It has sunk in a bit more now."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 07, 2016, with the headline 'Willett says family abused by American fans'. Print Edition | Subscribe