CRAIG CONNELLY: When it gets down to the nitty gritty, the American verbals from the stands start

Craig Connelly has caddied at seven Ryder Cups, including four in the US. 

Here, the Scot — who has looked after Paul Casey and Martin Kaymer — recalls tales of ‘staring out’ obnoxious American fans when banter turns to abuse and reveals what Europe’s players can expect from the galleries over the next three days at Whistling Straits. 

 

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It’s actually not too bad on the first day. It’s when it gets down to the nitty gritty — that’s when the verbals tend to start. It could be anything. Sore losers taking a pot shot. Stuff about your nationality, about your family.

Craig Connelly (left) has caddied at seven Ryder Cups for the likes of Paul Casey (right)

Connelly recalled tales of ‘staring out’ obnoxious American fans during the competition

The kind of stuff we have heard footballers complain about, as bad as that. It’s just nonsense and it is a small minority — but it does have an impact. 

Some of the worst I heard was aimed at Danny Willett, and that was harsh because it was his brother who’d had a go at the American fans (Pete Willett described the crowd as ‘a baying mob of imbeciles’ ahead of the 2016 tournament at Hazeltine).

It was nothing to do with Danny but it didn’t matter. A lot of it was just abuse. Vile abuse. It made it difficult for everyone to concentrate, including Martin. 

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Connelly has also caddied for European player Martin Kaymer, who sealed the famous comeback in Medinah in 2012 

You don’t mind if it’s witty or if it’s genuine banter, and some of it is. You’d turn to the crowd after a good one and say, “OK, that’s you 1-0 up”, but it does get nasty over there.

It is a minority, but there have been times when the level of abuse has been too much and I hope that doesn’t happen and we can enjoy the spectacle. 

In previous tournaments in the US, at Oakland Hills (2004) and Valhalla (2008), the Europe boys did a great job of silencing the crowd from the start, but I think the landscape has changed for people who attend golf matches. Society has changed, that’s changed everything.

Medinah (2012) was rowdy and given Chicago is a sports town, you would expect it. Whistling Straits is not too far from there so we may see it again. You have to deal with it. Have an attitude of ‘bring it on’. It spurs you on. You want to shut them up.

In previous tournaments in the US, at Oakland Hills (2004) and Valhalla (2008), the Europe boys did a great job of silencing the crowd from the start, but I think the landscape has changed for people who attend golf matches. Society has changed, that’s changed everything. 

I’d stare people out who went over the top, but before I did it I’d make sure there was a police officer to dodge behind!

Europe will have to deal with the rowdy American crowd – you just want to shut them up 

The Europeans are smart and they have done their bit to win the crowd over. They ask you not to but when you go out for a practice round, they will always stop and sign autographs.

Those practice rounds can be fun. There’s a lot of joking around — the practice almost gets in the way! It’s a long week so you might as well enjoy it before the serious stuff starts.

In 2004, (fellow caddie) Billy Foster lost control of his cart and almost ditched it. Some will load up each other’s bags with extra waterproofs, swap head covers, unclip the top of the bag so the clubs go everywhere when you pick it up.

But that all stops now and the hard work begins. Sunday night will be epic because you’re either celebrating or quickly drowning your sorrows.

The Europeans are smart and have done their bit to win the crowd over with the cheese-heads

The Americans join us and at Hazeltine we ended up partying together, although we stole their champagne at Medinah! I think this one will be really close. A lot of tight sessions and a scoreboard that goes back and forth, with Europe edging it.

I’m not sure what I’ll end up doing, I don’t know if I’ll watch it, but I hope I’m back in Rome. Martin will not want to go to another Ryder Cup without his clubs.

 

CRAIG CONNELLY WAS TALKING TO MIKE KEEGAN 

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