Darren Clarke says Sergio García will not be put off by hecklers in US

Sergio Garcia signing autographs

Darren Clarke, Europe’s Ryder Cup captain, has shrugged off any notion of US crowds negatively impacting on the performance of Sergio García at Hazeltine in September 2016.

García, who will join Clarke, Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler and Martin Kaymer as part of the Irish Open field at Royal County Down this week, was heckled during the closing round of the Players Championship this month, a scenario the Spaniard has said is common when he contends in the United States.

At Sawgrass García lost out in a play-off eventually won by the popular Fowler. The PGA Tour subsequently defended security arrangements but García was deeply unhappy by what took place.

Clarke, though, does not see a lasting or damaging situation. “It’s always part and parcel. Sergio, bless him, he’s great, but, he just fires people up,” Clarke said. “That’s what he does. You know, it’s part of the modern game. Ian Poulter gets a bit of it as well. These guys are professionals. They are thick-skinned and it’s part and parcel.

“If the Americans come to Europe, they get ‘Ole! Ole! Ole!’ all the time and we go over there, it’s all ‘USA, USA, USA’. That’s part of the Ryder Cup.

“Home advantage is huge and it’s part and parcel of the Ryder Cup. But I think the likes of Sergio or Poults or whatever, they have been on the tour too long to let something like that affect them.”

Pressed on spectator sentiment moving beyond the accepted norm, the captain added: “There are hecklers in every crowd, no matter if it’s golf or any sport. But then with Davis [Love III] as the US captain, and given the spirit and the immense respect that I know Davis shows to the game, that would not be part of what he would want at a Ryder Cup. So I’m sure you won’t see it at a Ryder Cup.

“It’s not the first time and Sergio just gets a little bit heckled more in the States but then Sergio’s a tough guy and he can handle it.”

Speaking to the TaylorMade website, García has expanded on the Sawgrass affair for the first time. “As soon as I got into the lead,” said García of when the cat-calling started. “It was for about 11 holes. When they are yelling from a few feet away, it’s very difficult not to hear it. And it was continuous.

“I’m not asking them to cheer for me. If they want to cheer for Rickie or someone else, I’m fine with that. But when it gets to the point where people start cheering against someone, me or anybody else, then it doesn’t feel like golf.

“When a European is playing against an American some of the guys start making it like the Ryder Cup and kind of take it to a different level. I’m sure it happens to Rory, too.

“Obviously I’m all out for somebody cheering but others wishing bad things is never a great thing. But I’ve heard it before. We’ve all heard it before. It is not something I can’t deal with or makes me want to quit. It’s not that big a deal.”

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Ewan Murray at Royal County Down, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 26th May 2015 23.03 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010