Thomas Pieters recalls 'hostile' 2016 Ryder Cup crowds

Thomas Pieters

In winning four points from a possible five in the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine, Thomas Pieters put in arguably the best performance of a European rookie in the history of the match.

The Belgian had plenty of reasons to be cheerful, but there were three things the 26-year-old wasn’t impressed with: the 17-11 scoreline, the course set-up and the behaviour of the US fans.

On multiple occasions, the heckling of the European players – particularly Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia – fell unacceptably short of common decency, never mind good sportsmanship.

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Speaking in Issue 166 of bunkered, which is on newsstands now, Pieters says he escaped most of the boorish vitriol but, playing alongside McIlroy three times, he still heard plenty of it.

“For me, it wasn’t that bad because they didn’t know who I was,” he says. “They didn’t have any dirt on me or anything like that. But for Rory, yeah, it was pretty hostile.

Thomas Pieters1

“They shouted stuff at him that you shouldn’t shout at anybody anywhere. Maybe that’s because they sell beer at 7am and Americans can’t drink.

“But to be honest, you don’t really hear the words most of the time. It’s just a big wall of noise.”

As well as the crowds, Pieters was also critical of the course set-up at Hazeltine, which he believed made the match a one-dimensional contest.

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“It just came down to putting,” he added. “That was the single biggest difference between us and them that week.

“The set-up of the course was ridiculous. You could hit it anywhere."

Citing Phil Mickelson as an example, Pieters added: “He was sometimes hitting it, like, six fairways left or right but was still able to get it on the green and then make a 40-footer. I didn’t think it was a great Ryder Cup set-up, to be honest.”

Read the Pieters interview in full

To read the interview with Thomas Pieters in full, where the Belgian also talks about Ian Poulter in the team room, what a Ryder Cup week is like and much more besides, pick up a copy of Issue 166 of bunkered. Out now!

Cover 166 Bunk

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