Europes Danny Willett says his brothers offensive comments have meant extra attention is trained on him in the Ryder Cup against USA starting on Friday
Danny Willett fears he has become a target for American fans at his maiden Ryder Cup with the Masters champion also conceding his experience has been tarnished and his focus hard to maintain. A midweek magazine column by Willetts brother included a string of offensive comments towards American golf fans.
In the wake of a high-profile controversy Willett has been omitted from the European side for the opening set of matches on Friday morning. He had been expected to partner Lee Westwood in the foursomes with another rookie, Thomas Pieters, instead given that place in opposition to Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar in the final match of four.
Peter Willett has apologised to his younger brother with Danny insisting their long-term relationship is not at risk. Peter Willetts article triggered immediate anger from Darren Clarke, Europes captain, and forced Danny Willett to offer his remorse in person to Davis Love III, who is the USA captain.
I was disappointed in what he wrote and obviously it put a bit of a downer on my first Ryder Cup for the last couple of days, said Danny Willett on Thursday.
Its not been too bad with the fans. The fans have still been great. Theres a few shouts out there but you can expect that. Obviously coming to America, youre already a bit of a target, the European team, the 12 guys. And yeah, it kind of centred the attention a bit more upon myself. You dont mind the odd bit of heckling but hope it doesnt go too far.
What was said was said and theres no going back on anything like that. I spoke to Davis and spoke to the guys and hopefully we can draw a line. But its been pretty tricky for me to get back on and fully focus these last few hours, especially this morning.
Its an unfortunate one as a rookie. Its supposed to be a special week. Its the first one hopefully of many and were all here to try and have a great time and try to be in and around what is a dream come true, in slipping on a European Ryder Cup shirt.
Petes apologised to me. On the phone he apologised for the things that have been thrown up from this and obviously how its been taken over here.
When asked in a tongue-in-cheek way as to whether Peters next Christmas gift may have been adversely affected, Danny replied: Familys family. He is still my brother. What he said was wrong and incredibly ill-timed but he is still my brother.
Willetts parents are at Hazeltine for his Ryder Cup bow. They were upset with the whole thing and how it came about and obviously whats been said, said the world No10. They spoke to Pete last night and obviously had a good chat with him. I dont exactly know what about. Ive not fully spoken to them about it, so Im not quite sure. But they were there again today walking inside the ropes with me and showing their support and thats all I can ask.
Willett was circumspect as to whether or not he will ask his sibling, a teacher by trade, to stop writing columns. Well have a good chat when I get home next week, he added.
Westwood, playing in his 10th Ryder Cup, fired a broadside at the home team by publicly questioning what would happen in the event of a fourth European winin succession. After defeat at Gleneagles two years ago the Americans set up a task force with a view to halting Ryder Cup woes.
You form a task force and it doesnt go right this week, where do you go from there? asked Westwood. Youve done pretty much all you can do. So well see how that goes.
The opening match of the 41st Ryder Cup will see Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed take on the formidable European partnership of Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose. Rory McIlroy will partner Andy Sullivan against Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler in game two. Martin Kaymer and Sergio Garcia will face Jimmy Walker and Zach Johnson in game three.