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fred couples ryder cup

Fred Couples: Ryder Cup heckling is ‘not a big deal’

Fred Couples has downplayed the worrying extent of Ryder Cup heckling that Padraig Harrington described earlier this week…

 

Fred Couples says heckling isn’t an issue at the Ryder Cup and abuse from fans is few and far between.

The American spoke after Padraig Harrington reported concerning examples of abuse given to players and their wives in previous Ryder Cups.

Harrington told the Telegraph people have been spat at in past events and family members have been subjected to “unrepeatable taunting,” with both European and US fans to blame.

But the tournament “isn’t a war” as Couples says and the US vice-captain believes heckling is something US players must accept on away soil.

“There are a few individual people, whether you’re from any country – United States – we’re all in the same spot,” Couples told NCG at Marco Simone.

“I’m not that close, but when I played, I played in Spain, at the Belfry. They’re not rooting for us but they like us, but when they’re out there, they want their team to win.

“So if I hit a bad shot and they cheer, they have got to accept that. So, the wives – they’re this far from you, right? So they’re hearing things, but it’s normal.

“People think ‘one of my friends is in a war’, it’s not a war. At the end of the day, people are hugging each other but while the tournament’s going on, you’re trying to win every match you can and win this thing by half a point.

“But the fans to me, I think it’s the greatest – I can’t wait to get to the first tee tomorrow because it’s the coolest thing in golf.

“They have fun and once you tee off – yeah you’ll get some people. They’re out here from 7am until 5 o’clock at night. I don’t drink but with people drinking – again, a certain person might yell. It’s not 30,000 people.

“Padraig’s points are well taken, I’m sure the wives hear more than I do, but I’m not part of that. I walked down the fairways and when I played, I absolutely loved it.

“I played good matches and had nothing to do with the fans. I played bad matches and had nothing to do with the fans, except when I hit a bad shot, it was hard to accept.

“But you can’t do anything, you’ve just got to play golf and do the best you can.”

Fred Couples Ryder Cup

Is Ryder Cup heckling a long-standing issue?

Harrington also described an occurrence at the 2016 Ryder Cup when Rory McIlroy “almost jumped into the crowd” after one fan’s heckle.

The Irishman admitted he didn’t have a solution to this crowd abuse problem that most famously reared its head at the 1999 Ryder Cup at Brookline.

Couples played for the US at Kiawah Island in 1991, another edition remembered by many as fiercely hostile and competitive. This was the second of five appearances for his country.

When the 63-year-old was asked if heckling was a problem at the Ryder Cup, this was his response:

“Heckling? No. Honestly, I think the greatest thing any person can do is play (in the Ryder Cup). When you lose, you hate it and then you hate the fans that were at Kiawah and you hate the fans that were at Whistling Straits.

“If we come here and don’t win, we’re not going to hate any fans that are here or talk about any fans. There may be one thing on Friday that happens, or Saturday, but not 30 things.

“But again, Padraig was a captain. He heard from 12 players and 12 wives. I’m an individual player and if my wife is walking and people are heckling her, it’s not every step of the way.

“It’s one shot – it’s not a big deal.”

Do you agree with this Fred Couples Ryder Cup heckling perspective? Tell us on X!

Matt Chivers

Matt Chivers

Now on the wrong side of 25, Matt has been playing golf since the age of 13 and was largely inspired to take up the game by countless family members who played golf during his childhood.

Matt is a member at Royal Cinque Ports in Deal playing off a 5 handicap, just a pitching wedge away from his hometown of Dover where he went to school and grew up. He has previously been a member at Etchinghill and Walmer and Kingsdown in Kent.

Having studied history at the University of Liverpool, Matt went on to pass his NCTJ Exams in Manchester a year later to fulfil his lifelong ambition of becoming a journalist. He picked up work experience along the way at places such as the Racing Post, the Independent, Sportsbeat and the Lancashire Evening Post.

Matt joined NCG in February 2023 and is the website’s main source of tour news, features and opinion. He has reported live from events such as The Open, the Ryder Cup and The Players Championship, having also interviewed and spent time with some of the biggest names in the sport.

Consuming tour golf on what is a 24/7 basis, you can come to Matt for informed views on the game and the latest updates on the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour and LIV Golf.

What’s in Matt’s bag: Cobra LTDx LS driver, Cobra LTDx 3-wood, TaylorMade P7MC irons, Ping Glide 4.0 wedges, Odyssey putter.

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