Presidential approval, the honoring of a golfing great, rowdy crowds, and a perfect picture of Rickie Fowler alone among his kissing teammates — Team USA’s Ryder Cup victory had it all.
Barack Obama referenced Arnold Palmer, who passed away the week before the tournament, after Sunday’s 17-11 victory ended the Americans’ run of three successive defeats against Europe.
“Proud to see our guys bring the trophy back home,” the US President wrote on Twitter. “Arnie is smiling down.”
His message was supported by nine-time major winner Gary Player, a contemporary of Palmer as they helped grow golf internationally in the 1960s and ’70s.
“No doubt this result is good for the Ryder Cup, good for the game of golf & fitting given Arnold Palmer’s passing,” the South African tweeted.
Palmer played in six Ryder Cups from 1961-73 — all of which he won — and was undefeated in two terms as US captain.
The 2016 tournament at Hazeltine served as a tribute to Palmer’s legacy.
During the closing ceremony, his name was spontaneously chanted by fans, with players also heard joining in. Before the tournament began Friday, fans were encouraged to sign a tribute wall at Hazeltine in memory of the golfing legend.
Winning captain Davis Love III said Palmer’s death had united the US players before the tournament:
“This team had to come together,” he told Sky Sports. “We lost Arnold Palmer on Sunday, that was tragic for golf, that was a blow to our team to start the week.”
However, some of the feelgood factor was tarnished by complaints about the behavior of some fans at Hazeltine, who were heard heckling and verbally abusing players on the course.
While one US supporter made headlines when he challenged a group of Europe players during their practice round Thursday — and subsequently won a $100 bet — some of the later interaction was not so friendly.
The hostility of home fans had been stoked when Peter Willett — the brother of Team Europe’s Danny Willett — published an article ranting about US supporters.
The 2016 Masters champion, who was comprehensively beaten 5 & 4 by American Brooks Koepka Sunday and lost his two earlier matches, has since defended his brother’s comments, despite apologizing at first.
“Very strange week here at the Ryder Cup,” he wrote on Twitter. “Unfortunately, some American fans showed that @P_J_Willett was in fact correct.
“Nothing to blame my bad play on. But still shows that sometimes fans don’t know when to call it a day. Shame really!”
When asked about his first Ryder Cup experience, a laughing Willett — with a can of beer at his side — told the assembled reporters that it had been “s**t.” He then offered to elaborate on that remark, saying it had been “really s**t.”
Willett’s teammate Rory McIlroy also claimed to be on the receiving end of abuse from the partisan Minnesotan crowd — he asked for a fan who insulted him Saturday to be ejected from the Minnesota course.
After sinking a 60-foot putt in his Sunday singles clash with Patrick Reed, the Northern Irishman responded in animated fashion by asking the American supporters why they had gone quiet.
“There have been some boundaries crossed,” the world No. 3 told reporters. “I let it get to me a couple of times which I probably shouldn’t have.
“You have to keep your concentration out there and it’s been a long day and sometimes emotions run high. It fueled me a lot. The more they shouted, the better we played.”
Members of Team USA were understandably delighted with their first Ryder Cup victory since 2008, having suffered a heartbreaking final-day defeat in its last contest on home soil that became known as the “Miracle at Medinah.”
Brandt Snedeker tweeted his thanks to US team vice-captain Bubba Watson for his guidance after winning all three of his matches, and unveiled a special “We Beat Europe” shirt.
Former Oklahoma State golfer Rickie Fowler, who beat Olympic champion Justin Rose in his singles match, found himself surrounded by his loved-up teammates and their wives and girlfriends. He didn’t mind too much — he posted the image on his Instagram page.
Last year, Fowler made headlines for his passionate celebration with model Alexis Randock at the Players Championship, but they are reportedly no longer together.
One team’s joy was another’s despondency. Members of Team Europe answered defeat with messages of solidarity on Twitter.
Justin Rose was humble, congratulating the US; fellow major winner Henrik Stenson said he was proud of the team despite the result, and rookie Andy Sullivan wrote that defeat makes him “even more determined to get myself in the next Ryder Cup” when it is hosted in Paris in 2018.