• McIlroy critical of US crowd’s behaviour at Ryder Cup
• Northern Irishman describes atmosphere as ‘hostile’
• He celebrated emphatically after getting Europe back on track
He used it, in fact, no fewer than three times in a press conference in the aftermath of he and Thomas Pieters’ dramatic 3&2 win over Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar. That was a victory that saw Europe go from 0-4 behind after the first session to a far more respectable 3-5 down at the end of the first day.
McIlroy sealed the point for he and his Belgian Pieters after converting a tricky downhill eagle putt on the 16th green, prompting an emotional and out-of-character celebration from him.
— Ryder Cup Team EUR (@RyderCupEurope) September 30, 2016
As the ball hit the hole, the four-time major winner turned and bowed to the spectators all around the hole before animatedly high-fiving and hugging playing partner Pieters and the rest of their European teammates.
The reason for McIlroy’s emphatic celebrations? The raucous home crowd.
“We’re not going down without a fight” – Rory McIlroy
“It’s a hostile environment out there,” he said. “I just want everyone that’s watching to know how much this means to us, how much it means to me personally and obviously us as a team.
“We’re not going down without a fight. It was four-zip after the morning. We’ve pulled it back a good bit, and we plan to pull it back even further going into tomorrow.”
Adding that the crowd’s behavior had more anti-European than the previous Ryder Cup on US soil at Medinah in 2012, McIlroy added: “You get the minority of people that are cheering against the other team. Most of the people out there are respectful and are just cheering really hard for the US team. That’s totally acceptable and that’s exactly what happens in Europe.
“They don’t want you to hit a good shot” – Rory McIlroy
“But still, it’s a hostile environment when the people out there don’t want you to hole a putt or don’t want you to hit a good shot. I think when you do hole a putt or hit a good shot, it just makes it that much more satisfying.”
McIlroy was particularly aggravated by some fans cheering when Andy Sullivan hit his tee shot into the water on the par-3 17th at a decisive point in the pair’s match with Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler in the morning’s foursomes.
“I’m all for people cheering for their team as much as they possibly can,” he said. “That’s sports and whatever. But it was a little disappointing in my eyes that that happened. But again, it’s a minority of people, and you know, most people out there are being respectful and respectful of the etiquette of our game of golf.
“I wanted to put an exclamation point on that session for us” – Rory McIlroy
“We want this Ryder Cup to be played in a very sportsman-like conduct, and a sportsman-like conduct that the great Arnold Palmer would be very proud of.”
Pressed to explain his celebration, McIlroy added: “Even before I hit that putt [on 16], I wanted to put an exclamation point on that session for us. I honestly actually thought about the celebration before I hit the putt. I knew it had a good chance of going in. It was downhill, I just had to get it started on the right line and gravity did the rest. I bowed to the crowd, said, ‘You’re welcome for the show’, and now we move on.”
What do you make of Rory McIlroy describing the US crowd as ‘hostile’? Do you think that’s accurate? Are you at Hazeltine? If so, what has been your experience so far? Leave your thoughts in our ‘Comments’ section below.