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The 2025 Ryder Cup Will Be WILD

By: | Mon 11 Mar 2024

For his latest View From The Fairway, Golfshake's Derek Clements looks ahead to what could be a rowdy Ryder Cup at Bethpage in 2025!

Next year’s Ryder Cup will be played at Bethpage near New York City. The stakes are going to be incredibly high. Luke Donald will captain Europe as they attempt to successfully defend the title on American soil for the first time since the incredible comeback victory at Medinah in 2012.

And one thing is for certain - the atmosphere is going to be febrile. The Americans are going to be desperate to regain the trophy they lost in such humiliating circumstances in Italy last year.

New York golf galleries run those at the Phoenix Open a very close second when it comes to rowdy behaviour. You can bet your life savings on the fact that European golfers will be booed incessantly, that poor shots will be cheered to the rafters. The noise will be deafening when an American birdie putt disappears into the hole.

Donald did not put a foot wrong in the build-up to the 2023 encounter at Marco Simone and was a superb leader during the three days of battle. And that is why the European team wanted him in charge again. You can bet your life savings on him also saying and doing all the right things before and during events at Brookline.

Knowing how hostile the galleries are going to be, it is easy to understand why Rory McIlroy would want the likes of Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton in the team. As things currently stand, their participation in the contest is currently up in the air due to their status as LIV Golf players. But that is a debate for another day.

Donald will need strong characters in his team. 

There is also the question as to who the USA will name as captain. Several possible candidates have been bandied about, including Stewart Cink, Fred Couples, Matt Kuchar and Steve Stricker, who captained the team when they won at Whistling Straits in 2021. Cink and Kuchar are veterans who are still playing at a decent level on the PGA Tour, and, despite his age, Couples remains highly popular among the players, and has served as a vice-captain several times.

But surely the job will go to Tiger Woods. And that is a worry. 

Woods has a pretty average record in the Ryder Cup as a player but he is a born winner and if he is offered and accepts the role you can be certain that he will be doing everything within his power to ensure that the USA win back the trophy - even if it means orchestrating the crowd.

Ryder Cup

The worst excesses of poor crowd behaviour came at the 1999 Ryder Cup, which came to be known as The Battle of Brookline after American players, wives, caddies and spectators invaded the 17th green after Justin Leonard’s unlikely birdie putt against Jose Maria Olazabal.

The match was next played in 2002, having been delayed for 12 months following the horrific New York terror attacks in 2001. I was at The Belfry in 2002 and the atmosphere was incredible. Yes the home fans were loud but they also cheered good play from the American team.

Over the years since, things have changed. Let’s not pretend that Ryder Cup crowds are well behaved because that simply is not the case. And it happens on both sides of the Atlantic.

If you watched the matches at either Whistling Straits or Marco Simone you will know that visiting players were roundly cheered when they hit bad shots. Time and again, the fans came perilously close to crossing the line - and they often went too far. 

Zach Johnson was a dreadful US captain in 2023. Many of his pairings were extremely odd. But he certainly did not deserve some of the treatment he received from fans at the time and from the media in the aftermath of his team’s defeat. 

Johnson may have been a poor leader but he is an honourable man and you can be sure that he did what he thought was right at the time. He certainly did not set out to deliberately lose the Ryder Cup. And I do wonder if the abuse he received last year contributed towards him confronting rowdy spectators at the Phoenix Open recently.

This year’s tournament was marked with some behaviour that certainly went beyond the pale. Golfers who play at TPC Scottsdale know that when they come to the par-three 16th, they are going to be booed and jeered if they miss the green. And they realise that the volume is off the scale on that hole, even when they are addressing the ball. What irked Johnson, and several other golfers, was that this behaviour has now spread over the full 18 holes.

But when you allow 200,000 people through the gates and allow them to drink alcohol all day long, what else should the PGA Tour expect?

My concern is that we will see this behaviour spreading to other tournaments. Golf's top brass need to get a grip on this, and they need to do it now. If they fail to act I fear for the worst come Bethpage 2025. The Ryder Cup is a very special event. Long may it remain so.

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