Sports

Willett gets the treatment

European star feels the heat from American fans after brother's crass comments

PHOTO: AFP

Reigning US Masters champion Danny Willett (pictured) teed off at the Ryder Cup on Friday to a stream of catcalls from hecklers upset over his brother's insults to American golf fans.

There was a chorus of boos from US fans when he was introduced on the first tee.

Others yelled "mash potatoes" and "buy you a hotdog", followed by chants of his brother Peter's name.

"It was anticipated," Willett said.

"It was one of those things, like I said before, coming to America is a tough one.

"Just like when the Americans come to Europe, they gave me a little bit more."

Englishman Willett did his best to tune out the background noise as he and Team Europe partner Martin Kaymer lost a four-ball match to the US duo of Brandt Snedeker and Brooks Koepka 5 and 4.

Despite the jeers and boos coming from the jammed grandstand, Willett calmly stepped up to the opening tee box and blasted his first drive down the middle of the fairway.

He then silenced the crowd around the green when he drained a 30-foot putt on his first hole for an opening birdie.

The controversy began when Pete Willett called US golf fans "fat, stupid, greedy, classless b*******" and a "baying mob of imbeciles" in an article on a European golf website.

The 28-year-old Danny Willett apologised for his brother's rant after learning about it on Wednesday.

Willett's wife, Nicole, followed her husband around the Hazeltine National course on Friday from inside the ropes with the other players' wives.

She declined to speak about the matter, saying "I am rather upset".

Not all US supporters were out to jeer Willett.

A group of fans wearing hockey jerseys and Viking horns made a point of telling the grandstand hecklers to keep quiet and, on the third tee, another American spectator yelled, "We love you, Danny."

"It was exactly what we thought it was going to be. There was a few little shouts in there, and bits and bobs but, hopefully, they are all following me around so the rest of the lads can do their business," Willett said.

"But yeah, by and large, it was probably what we expected."

Willett is making his Ryder Cup debut after capturing his first Major crown at the Masters.

Willett, who also won at Dubai in February, was the first European in 17 years to win at Augusta National.

- AFP.

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