CHASKA, Minn. — Rory McIlroy had a fan ejected from the course after a heated and vulgar exchange as the 41st Ryder Cup turned ugly on the second afternoon.
McIlroy was heckled by a vocal antagonist from the gallery and was on the receiving end of an expletive-filled outburst between the 7th green and 8th tee during his fourballs match with Thomas Pieters against the American pairing of Brooks Koepka/Dustin Johnson.
Upon hearing the insults, McIlroy spun around instantly and strode toward the ropes separating the crowd from the path between the holes. He looked into the crowd, identified the culprit and yelled: “Get him out of here.”
The Northern Irishman lingered in the area and conversed with a nearby marshal, while pointing out the man before continuing towards the 8th tee. The marshal confirmed to USA TODAY Sports that the fan would be removed from the course.
McIlroy has deliberately positioned himself as the lightning rod for the American crowd, which identifies him as Europe’s chief danger man. On Friday evening, he bowed to the crowd before celebrating wildly after holing a critical putt to give himself and Belgian rookie Pieters victory over Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed.
He admitted afterwards he was determined to show the gallery that he would remain unfazed by any vitriol aimed in his direction.
It is important to note that the vast majority of fans have behaved impeccably this week. However, as the event has progressed and Europe’s revival following a disastrous opening morning has continued, the noisy unpleasantness has consistently increased and too often overstepped the boundary between patriotic support and ignorant boorishness.
Rory McIlroy confronts fan, says to remove him. No physical contact. Marshal tells me fan to be removed immediately. pic.twitter.com/namR3844jX— Christine Brennan (@cbrennansports) October 1, 2016
“99.9 percent of the crowd are fantastic,” European player Rafa Cabrera Bello said following the morning session. “There is always a 0.1 per cent who don’t really understand the values we are playing and competing here for and they got offline.”
Sadly for the sake of the tournament, the actions of the few have a tendency to overshadow the admirable conduct of the rest. Neither McIlroy, nor any other player, should have to deal with comments that are personally insulting.
However, the controversy seemed to only serve to fire up McIlroy, the FedExCup champion and world No. 3, even further. He and Pieters raced into a four-up lead after nine holes, with McIlroy reacting to each hole win with impassioned fist pumps and hand slaps with his partner and their caddies.