Danny Willett says his wife and parents were victims of abuse by American golf fans during the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine. The Masters champion was targeted by the gallery in Chaska after his brother Pete wrote an article slamming the conduct of golf supporters in the US.
Willett senior labelled fans in the US as a "baying mob of imbeciles" in an article published on the website of magazine National Club Golfer on the eve of the matches between the US and Europe. Davis Love III's side regained the Ryder Cup with an emphatic 17-11 victory in Minnesota, but the conduct of fans around the course overshadowed the event.
Several European players complained about the hostile environment, including world number three Rory McIlroy and Spaniard Sergio Garcia but it was Willett who came in for special treatment. The 29-year-old described his Ryder Cup debut as "s**t" in a press conference after the event and has now revealed he was not the only one to be persecuted.
"You've got 150-200,000 fans there that love watching golf," he told Sky Sports. "Unfortunately, you've got the odd one or two that don't actually go there to watch the golf, which is a shame. But I don't think that's ever going to stop. We got a taste of it last week, being in America with the fans and how they push on to help their team win.
"I think people realise what was said was reflecting on a massively tiny proportion of people that went there. That's just how it is, unfortunately. When you're walking round a golf event week to week, everyone's fantastic. You pitch up and play a normal golf event anywhere in the world and the fans are great.
"I don't think you should be walking around playing golf while people are saying things to your parents and saying things to your wife. I don't think that's our sport, that's not what we play for, that's not what we do. Unfortunately that happened and unfortunately it put a little bit of a downer on what was supposed to be my first really good experience of the Ryder Cup."
Willett, who failed to record a single point in his two matches and lost four and five to Brooks Koepka in the singles on day three, admitted that his brother was "correct" regarding his scathing criticism of American fans. The Yorkshire-born player will continue his season at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, alongside four other players who appeared in Darren Clarke's losing side.
Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer, Rafa Cabrera Bello and Matthew Fitzpatrick will all compete in the event, but Justin Rose is absent after announcing he will take eight weeks off to rest. The Olympic champion has been suffering from a back problem and will take time away from the sport following a grueling schedule.