Ryder Cup 2016: Hazeltine's fiery atmosphere gets out of hand as Rory McIlroy confronts heckler

Matters appeared to reach breaking point as the golfer made his way between the seventh and eighth holes when a fan yelled at him to “suck a d***”

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The Independent Online

Rory McIlroy and others were subject to extensive verbal abuse during the Ryder Cup’s Saturday afternoon session as the fiery atmosphere at Hazeltine National reached new heights.

The 41st Ryder Cup has so far been a riot of colour, costume and cheer, but a small minority of fans have resorted to heckling in a bid to distract Europe’s players.

McIlroy had to deal with rowdy fans on nearly every hole on Saturday but matters appeared to reach breaking point as the player made his way between the seventh and eighth holes when a fan yelled at him to “suck a d***”.

The heckler also made references to the golfer’s split with former partner Caroline Wozniaki.

McIlroy proceeded to confront the heckler and after pointing him out to a course marshal, the fan was removed.

Despite the abuse, McIlroy has been feeding off the hostility at Hazeltine to produce some of his best golf to date. 

The Irishman has won three of his four matches so far and will be looking for a fourth victory as he tees off against USA’s Patrick Reed at 11.04 am in Sunday's singles.

Speaking after Saturday’s fourballs, the current world No.3 said: "Someone just said a few derogatory things I thought were over the line. 

"I tried to get him removed. I'm not sure if he was removed or not but these things happen.

Rory McIlroy confronts fan after Wozniaki comments

"It is golf at the end of the day. You try to keep your utmost for who you are playing and for who you are supporting. That particular guy, who is obviously in a very, very, very small minority, just took it a bit too far.

"It's a tough environment but we expect that. You have to keep your concentration out there and it's been a long day and sometimes emotions run high.”

He added: "It fuelled me a lot. The more they shouted, the better we played, so I hope they shout at us all day tomorrow."

Englishmen Danny Willett and Lee Westwood were also subject to heckling during the tightest match of Saturday’s fourballs.

At the 17th hole, a loud spectator said "Miss" just as Westwood was stroking a putt to halve the hole. He missed, providing the US pair of JB Holmes and Ryan Moore with their winning margin.

patrick-reed.jpg
Patrick Reed was in fine form on Saturday to help extend America's lead  (Getty)

"You hate to see it but it only takes a few," Curtis Strange, the 2002 US Ryder Cup captain said. "You want to see the fans root really hard for their team and be polite to the other team.

"They are our guests ... in our country. I really feel for Danny this week and they've been heckling Rory. How can you heckle Rory?"

Europe's Sergio Garcia also spoke out about the heated atmosphere. 

"They have been quite poor. I'm not going to lie," he said. "It's unfortunate because I think that 85 percent of the people are great and I love playing in America. My girlfriend is American.

"But that 15 percent, that is really bad. It makes them look bad. And I feel ashamed for my girlfriend because I know how bad she feels when she hears all the things, but it is what it is."

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