CHASKA, Minnesota (Reuters) - American fans made Danny Willett pay for his brother’s midweek rant when they booed the Masters champion on to the first tee on his Ryder Cup debut on Friday, paving the way for a stream of taunts later on.
The Englishman and his fourballs partner Martin Kaymer also had to contend with an inspired performance from their opponents as big-hitting rookie Brooks Koepka and hot-putting Brandt Snedeker charged to a 5 and 4 victory.
Willett was forced to apologise after his journalist sibling Pete hit out at the Hazeltine National crowd, saying Europe needed “to silence the pudgy, basement-dwelling, irritants, stuffed on cookie dough and pissy beer”.
The player was greeted by a jeering gallery when he stepped on the tee with Kaymer but the opening hole was halved when Willett stroked home a curling left-to-right birdie putt from 25 feet.
The verbal abuse was not too bad early on but as the players made their way round the course, especially when they were close to the refreshment tents, it grew in volume.
“Need more cookie dough?”, was one of the regular refrains, as was “hot dog” and “mashed potato”.
When Willett missed a putt on the fourth green, one fan shouted at the top of his voice “why don’t you get your brother to play it for you?”.
American vice-captain Bubba Watson leapt to the player’s defence, shaking his head and barking out, “come on, we don’t wanna go there”.
The crowd were also vocal when the 28-year-old Willett saw a birdie effort lip out at the fifth.
There were more shouts at the sixth when Koepka split the fairway with a monster drive while the Englishman hooked his tee shot into a bunker, one fan crying: ‘Wonder what your brother would make of that one?'.
When the match eventually ended on the 14th green, Willett told reporters: ”It was anticipated...coming to America is a tough one.
“They gave me a little bit more and I think it was exactly what we thought it was going to be.”
Asked by Reuters if the American pair felt slightly uncomfortable with all the yelling, Snedeker replied: ”Maybe a little bit but you get that pretty much every week on tour at the weekend.
”You get it in the last couple of groups, people don’t want you to win or whatever it may be. I didn’t think it crossed the line by any stretch of the imagination today.
“Davis Love was out there for quite a few holes trying to quash it if it got out of control,” Snedeker said of his captain. “I don’t think it really ever did.”
Editing by Andrew Both/Larry Fine