Ryder Cup telecasts didn’t show them, but some unpleasant situations involving crowd behaviour did occur. Dr. Robert Gordon, an orthopedic surgeon based at Etobicoke (Ont.) General Hospital and consultant to the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals), Major League Baseball, and the NBA, was at the Medinah Country Club for the matches. He has provided an eyewitness account to the Globe.
“I was listening to the Golf Channel and they were saying how wonderful the crowd was,” Gordon said this week. “But they were vicious, incredibly rude and raucous. They were yelling and screaming obscenities.”
Gordon said that spectators yelled at Europe’s Paul Lawrie, a Scotsman, that “real men don’t wear skirts.” The reference, of course, was to the kilts that Scots sometimes wear.
Associated Press writer Bernie McGuire quoted Lawrie this week about the fan behaviour.
“Top it. Shank it. You’re going to lose,” Lawrie said he heard of comments directed at him. “Stuff like that on every shot you played.”
Gordon was watching as Martin Kaymer faced the six-foot par putt on the 18th hole Sunday to win his match against Steve Stricker, and to guarantee Europe at least a tie in the Ryder Cup. A tie would mean Europe would retain the Cup, having won it two years ago in Wales.
“One drunk was screaming just before Kaymer hit the putt,” Gordon said. Kaymer, of course, made the putt.
Abuse wasn’t directed at the European players alone, and sometimes it came from the sky. Tiger Woods bore some of the brunt of this.
“When Tiger was on the fourth hole Sunday everybody noticed the sky writing,” Gordon remembered. “There was ‘Good luck, Tiger. Love, your ex-wife.’ Then on seven it was ‘Good luck. Jo,’” a reference to one of Woods’s mistresses of a few years ago.
Gordon, whose son Turner plays for the Duke University golf team, also addressed organizational matters.
“There were waits at the washrooms up to 40 minutes,” Gordon said. “It was disgusting. When we left they had to funnel 40,000 people through a four-foot sidewalk. There were big safety issues.”
Gordon also complained about food and water shortages after noon every day of the matches. He attended the PGA Championship at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island, S.C. in August, and said this was a problem there during Friday’s second round. The PGA of America conducts that championship and the Ryder Cup.
“Nobody told the truth about this,” Gordon said of the Ryder Cup problems. “The golf was beyond belief, yet I did not see anyone comment on how poorly it was run.”
Some writers who were at Medinah have addressed issues Gordon raised since the Ryder Cup ended. Here is one piece from The Telegraph, by Jonathan Liew
Meanwhile, Gordon’s conclusion was straightforward: “It was fun, but it got out of hand sometimes.”
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Lorne Rubenstein has written a golf column for The Globe and Mail since 1980. He has played golf since the early 1960s and was the Royal Canadian Golf Association’s first curator of its museum and library at the Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ontario and the first editor of Score, Canada’s Golf Magazine, where he continues to write a column and features. He has won four first-place awards from the Golf Writers Association of America, one National Magazine Award in Canada, and he won the award for the best feature in 2009 from the Golf Journalists Association of Canada. Lorne has written 12 books, including Mike Weir: The Road to the Masters (2003); A Disorderly Compendium of Golf, with Jeff Neuman (2006); This Round’s on Me (2009); and the latest Moe & Me: Encounters with Moe Norman, Golf’s Mysterious Genius (2012). He is a member of the Ontario Golf Hall of Fame and the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame. Lorne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org . You can now follow him on Twitter @lornerubenstein