(Reuters) - Europe slipped to a crushing 17-11 loss to the United States at the 41st Ryder Cup but they suffered an ever bigger beating outside the ropes in front of massive, raucous galleries at Hazeltine National in Chaska, Minnesota.
While European fans have punched well above their weight over the past three decades with their witty soccer-style chanting when the biennial team event has been held in the U.S., they were drowned out at Hazeltine by overwhelming numbers.
Before the start of last week’s competition, U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III identified the team’s slogans as “12 Strong” and “We Are 13”, referring to his 12-man lineup and the American fans, the so-called 13th man.
Over the three days of competition, more than 150,000 mainly partisan spectators swarmed across Hazeltine, a minority of them misbehaving badly as they heckled the European players but the majority raising the decibel level to unprecedented heights.
“These might have been the loudest roars ever in professional golf,” NBC commentator Johnny Miller, a double major champion, said during Sunday’s television broadcast of the closing singles matches at Hazeltine.
“The home crowd was just crazy.”
Kate Rose has watched her husband, England’s world number 11 Justin Rose, compete in three Ryder Cups on American soil and she has never heard the European fans silenced so effectively, though their much smaller numbers were a significant factor.
“There was a lot less European support this year than ever before in my experience,” Kate Rose told Reuters after following the progress of her husband from inside the ropes.
“Maybe Minnesota is not a destination they want to come to. Chicago (venue for the 2012 Ryder Cup) is obviously an attractive place for them to visit, plus there are a lot of Europeans that live in Chicago as well.
“It made for a very different experience at Hazeltine. If the European fans start singing, then the Americans want to squash them vocally, but there wasn’t much European singing at Hazeltine so the U.S. fans had no one to compete against.”
Europe’s powerhouse combination of Rose and Henrik Stenson, sent out first in each of the first two sessions at Hazeltine to set the tone for their team, were on the receiving end of occasional heckling, as well as deafening U.S. cheers.
For the most part, Kate Rose took all of this in her stride despite the highly charged atmosphere always associated with a Ryder Cup.
“We expect the crowds in the U.S. to be very vocal and very pro-American and anti-European,” said Rose, after watching much of the action at Hazeltine from a golf cart inside the ropes.
“I think it’s a shame because in Europe we’re not anti-American, which I pointed out on a couple of occasions to some very loud Americans at Hazeltine.
“But it’s a good vibe, it’s a good atmosphere. I enjoy it because we are friends with them (the U.S. players) so I am kind of enjoying it for them as well.”
Editing by Frank Pingue