Abused McIlroy still fears fan-free 2020 Ryder Cup
It’s just 150 days until the next Ryder Cup and nearly four years on from the ugliness of the 2016 event and McIlroy is already calling for this year’s tournament to be put back a year.
No doubt, the current World No. 1 is hoping that after five-years he would have gotten over the personal attacks he endured at Hazeltine.
Rory McIlroy plays with the crowd at the 2016 Ryder Cup (Credit: PGA Tour)
Ironically just days after the passing of the affable legend, Arnold Palmer, American spectator behaviour was at its ugliest in rural Minnesota.
McIlroy, a winner the Sunday before at the Tour Championship, had borne the brunt of comments before he finally decided enough was enough.
On day one, after turning to the crowd and celebrating a winning birdie on seven, he began walking the 300-yards uphill to the eighth tee.
Some low life yelled ‘Suck a d***, Rory’, and with that McIlroy turned and walked back to confront the male spectator.
Then European vice-captain, Padraig Harrington, revealed afterwards he thought the situation may turn horribly nasty, so much so, he was prepared to go in to physically support McIlroy but fortunately police and security nabbed the culprit.
Two groups further back and someone shouted ‘Sergio you suck’ as he and teammate and compatriot, Rafa Cabrera-Bello grabbed a half in their match against the Texas duo of Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth.
USA Vice-captain, Tom Lehman also had to intervene and tell the fans to calm down.
Little wonder then that McIlroy will head to Whistling Straits knowing he’s going to cop abuse again.
“A Ryder Cup without fans, it’s not a Ryder Cup and for me, I’d much rather they delay it until 2021 than play it at Whistling Straits without fans,” said McIlroy.
“That’s from a European, going to America, viewpoint knowing that I’m going to get abuse.”
“Obviously, it would be better for Europeans to play without fans because we wouldn’t deal with some of the stuff that you have to put up with, but at the same time, it wouldn’t be a great spectacle.”
“There would be no atmosphere. So, if it came to whether they had to choose between not playing the Ryder Cup or playing it without fans, I would say just delay it a year.”
Tommy Fleetwood, who won four of five matches on debut in France, has yet to endure the obnoxious behaviour of an American Ryder Cup.
“It doesn’t seem right and it also sounds strange to play a Ryder Cup without the fans,” said Fleetwood.
“It’s the fans that make the event what it is…you talk about guys that have played the Ryder Cup and they talk about not being able to put the ball on the tee, or the feeling that they have.”
“Is the pressure the same without fans? I don’t think it can be if nobody is there. That’s what makes it.”
“Having sixty, seventy thousand people watching and there are only four groups on the golf course. It’s amazing, and it makes the Ryder Cup what it is.”
And if you were looking for good news on whether or not the Ryder Cup will be played in front of spectators or not then PGA of America’s CEO, Seth Waugh delivered that.
“It’s hard to imagine one without fans,” said Waugh.
“We have begun to talk about whether you could create some virtual fan experience, and we’re going to try to be as creative as we can. It’s [still] to be determined, frankly, whether you could hold it without fans or not.”