Scottish Daily Mail


Clarke fury as crude jibe at USA puts Willett and Co in firing line

- DEREK LAWRENSON Golf Correspond­ent reports from Hazeltine

NO MAN should ever be held responsibl­e for the actions of his brother but the obvious worry at this 41st Ryder Cup is that it will now be the Masters champion Danny Willett’s sorry fate.

Heaven knows what Pete Willett was thinking when he penned an article labelling Americans as ‘fat, stupid, greedy, classless b ****** s’ but it certainly hasn’t gone down as the joke he presumably intended. The man who earned himself an audience at Augusta with his amusing tweets about their days growing up has now caused a world of trouble not only for his sibling but probably the Europe team as a whole.

American audiences at a Ryder Cup barely need an excuse to ramp up the hostility but now they’ve got something to truly fan the flames.

As one of Pete Willett’s followers on Twitter responded: ‘Congratula­tions — you’ve just made your brother the most hated golfer in America.’

Once aware of the article, which appeared in UK publicatio­n National Club Golfer and was picked up by the American press, Europe captain Darren Clarke could see the problems a mile off — as Pete Willett should have, given he is a man who holds a position of some responsibi­lity as a drama teacher. He’s certainly caused some drama here, all right. Barely able to contain his fury, Clarke said: ‘As soon as I was made aware of the article I went to find Danny, who is bitterly disappoint­ed in it, as I am. ‘It is not what Danny thinks. It is not what I think. It is not what Team Europe stands for. He fully intends to speak to his brother to express his displeasur­e.’ It was hard not to feel for the green jacket holder. This is the last thing he needed, as he prepares for his first Ryder Cup tomorrow morning. The danger now is that it will overshadow his entire rookie experience. American captain Davis Love commented: ‘I’m trying to ignore it. If I read it I’m just going to get mad. I’m just going to get defensive. So I’m trying to forget about it.’ If only Europe’s team could forget about it. All this after a perfect preparatio­n so far as well. On Tuesday evening, the Europe team and its cohorts had one of those special Ryder Cup evenings they will remember for the rest of their lives. At the centre of it was a magician and a motivator. The former was the brilliant Dynamo, who pulled off tricks that had them all shaking their heads in amazement.

British and Irish Lions rugby legend Paul O’Connell then spoke inspiring words about the joy of playing for a team, and playing for the shirt.

‘It chimed in perfectly with what we all think about the Ryder Cup,’ said Justin Rose. ‘When we all get together we’re conscious of the legacy left by the great Europeans who came before us — the Seves, the Olazabals, the Langers and the Faldos, and we want to live up to what they built.

‘Paul stressed about how in his sport the number on the back of your shirt, you have to make it so the next No 5 has something to look up to and has a role model.

‘I think every one of us feels an honour to represent the team in the best way possible, and leave it in a better place for the next team in two years’ time.’

Rose will play at least two matches with Open champion Henrik Stenson, who confirmed he is now over his knee injury to the extent Clarke could call upon him to play all five sessions if necessary.

Sadly, that excellent news for Europe was overshadow­ed as the storm broke over Pete Willett’s puerile words.

It’s perhaps as well for the visitors that the Ryder Cup doesn’t begin until tomorrow, and an extra 24 hours for the obvious and understand­able anger being felt here to subside.

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