European Ryder Cup captain, Padraig Harrington hopes there’s no repeat of the ugly scenes that engulfed Rory McIlroy at the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine, the last occasion the biennial event was staged in the States.
Harrington was referring to an incident during the afternoon of the second day when McIlroy was the centre of a very expletive outburst by an American fan.
Harrington, then a vice-captain under Darren Clarke, was walking with McIlroy and playing partner Thomas Pieters in their match against Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka with Harrington gauging a clearly very upset McIlroy was on the verge of jumping the ropes to physically chastise the fan in question. With Harrington now revealing, more than three years on, that he was all set to go to the aide of McIlroy.
“One guy got at Rory on one of the walkways and got very personal,” Harrington recalled in speaking with BBC Radio ahead of the start of this week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
“And Rory wanted to go in over the ropes at him. I was standing about five yards behind Rory as a vice-captain.
“I’m thinking: ‘If he goes in and starts swinging, I’m going to have to go in and start swinging.’ And I’m thinking the two of us would be in there throwing handbags.
“And I’m thinking: ‘Oh no, this is the worst.’ I’m the minder, I have to go where he’s going and I’m thinking: ‘Please don’t do it.’ Thankfully nothing came of it.”
In fact, police managed to diffuse the situation by escorting the fan off the course.
Harrington’s Hazeltine comments have prompted Europe’s 2020 team captain to issue a warning, as he also said to the BBC, to those he will take later this year to Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.
“I will tell my players to expect and accept a bit of booing and a bit of cheering if you hit a bad shot,” said Harrington.
“I saw Americans hit bad shots in Paris National [in 2018] and they were booed and jeered.
“We have to make a strong effort to make sure there is nothing said during any shot.”