Ryder Cup trash talk takes brotherly twist

ByJASON SOBEL
September 29, 2016, 9:40 PM

— -- CHASKA, Minn. -- My fellow Americans, now is the time we must stand together. Whether you're Trump or Hillary, whether you're conservative or liberal, it's time to put aside our differences and focus on the real issue facing our nation.

This is Ryder Cup week, a week when even the most disillusioned souls among us can passionately root for a dozen multimillionaires from our country to beat a dozen multimillionaires from another continent in a game that still too often evokes images of high-society haughtiness.

If that isn't enough to band together and put the united back in the United States, then allow me to introduce our newest Public Enemy No. 1.

His name is Pete Willett, and he's a schoolteacher.

That alone doesn't sound too sinister, but ever since Pete's brother, Danny, won this year's Masters Tournament right here in the good ol' U.S. of A., he has been afforded a platform to offer his opinions on a variety of golf- (and non-golf) related matters.

He's usually funny. He's sarcastic, dry and self-deprecating. He is often even a bit subversive, though not in a malicious way.

Until now.

In his latest column for National Club Golfer, Willett -- Pete, that is, not the one with the green jacket -- explained how much he loves the Ryder Cup and how much he loves watching his European side beat the Americans every other year. Nothing wrong with that. He should.

Then he gets into what he really thinks of American golf fans.

He called us a "baying mob of imbeciles."

He called us a "giggling group of reprobates."

He called us "pudgy, basement-dwelling irritants, stuffed on cookie dough and pissy beer."

He called us "cretins" and "immature" and "dim Yanks."

He called us "fat, stupid, greedy, classless bastards."

Game on, Petey. Those are fightin' words.

There are places in America where, well, let's just say Pete Willett wouldn't be a very welcome guest right now. Chaska doesn't feel like one of them. They're nice people here. Tolerant people, it seems.

But man, if the first few days of practice rounds are any indication, they sure do like to make a lot of noise.

Guess what, Pete? You just gave them reason to get even louder. You single-handedly ratcheted the level of animosity a few extra notches. After three consecutive Ryder Cup losses, the U.S. hasn't been an underdog like this since 1776 -- oddsmakers' lines be damned.

We like that role. Just as we like being called out and poked fun at and ridiculed, as juvenile as it might have been. That's because anything we take, we can dish out even better. Don't expect us to sit here and take it quietly.

Danny Willett already understands this. A rookie on this year's European team, he played a practice round Wednesday at Hazeltine and heard plenty of jeers from that "baying mob of imbeciles."

Asked by Golf Channel for his thoughts on his brother's column, the Masters champion said: "I'd just like to apologize, obviously, to everyone involved for what's been said. It's obviously not the thoughts of myself and of the team and of captain Darren [Clarke]. I spoke to [Pete] on the phone after I was made aware of what was said and what has been going on. And I said to Pete that, you know, I was obviously disappointed in what was said and what was written about the American fans that obviously took me under their wing fantastically back in April."

Perhaps Danny has been keeping an eye on American politics lately because that's what we like to call some good, old-fashioned spin control.

Even Clarke got in on the act, knowing the brother of a team member might've just turned a raucous home crowd into a frenzied flock of impassioned supporters.

"It is not what I think. It is not what Team Europe stands for," Clarke said. "I was obviously very disappointed in it, as well, because that's an outside person expressing their opinion, which is not representative of what our thoughts are."

As a guy who has written more than my fair share of non-humorous humor columns, I understand the desire to take a mulligan sometimes.

Hey, foot-in-mouth disease happens to everyone, at some point. Just last week, U.S. captain Davis Love III stoked the rivalry flames by claiming, "This is the best golf team, maybe, ever assembled."

Europe instantly went 1-up after that comment, with the team's star players using those words as a launching point for punch lines about the U.S. task force and their inability to win this event.

With Pete Willett's incendiary column, the match is back to all square. Expect these pudgy, basement-dwelling irritants to be extra loud this week in response to those words.

You know, in between bites of cookie dough and sips of pissy beer.

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