Ryder Cup: Why Sheffield’s Matt Fitzpatrick is happy to welcome the hostile reception at Whistling Straits

Yorkshireman Matt Fitzpatrick has challenged a partisan United States crowd to ‘bring the noise’ as the 43rd Ryder Cup tees off at Whistling Straits today.

Team Europe's Matthew Fitzpatrick on the 10th green at Whistling Straits Picture: Anthony Behar/PA

There will be few European fans in attendance due to travel restictions enforced by the Covid pandemic, meaning a traditionally boisterous home crowd will be even more one-sided against the visiting European team.

Padraig Harrington’s men are seeking to win the Ryder Cup for a fifth time in six events, but for only the fifth time in 22 away matches.

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Fitzpatrick was a young 22-year-old rookie the last time it was played in the States, losing both his matches as Europe were swept away by the United States at Hazeltine in 2016.

Matt Fitzpatrick, centre, shares a joke with Europe team captain Padraig Harrington, right, and team-mate Rory McIlroy at Whistling Straits Picture: AP/Jeff Roberson

He was targeted by tanked-up boo-boys that week while one fan was ejected for abusing Rory McIlroy.

Winning on the road in a Ryder Cup has become increasingly difficult with six of the last seven matches won by the home side and the US not winning on their travels since triumphing at the Belfry in 1993.

The absence of hardly any European support this week will make that challenge even harder, but 27-year-old Fitzpatrick from Sheffield is relishing the reception.

“That’s what makes it more fun, if I’m honest,” said the six-times winner on the European Tour. “You’ve got to put up with that as well and it makes it more exciting, in my opinion. In a way I prefer to play under the hostility.

READY, WILLING AND ABLE: Matthew Fitzpatrick makes his way to the 10th green at Whistling Straits Picture: Anthony Behar/PA

“It’s an added pressure, an added motivation to try to play well.”

Five years ago he was not immune from the abuse, particularly with his youthful looks.

“I didn’t really get too much abuse,” he admits. “I got ‘Did your mum cut your hair?’ and ‘Does your mum cut the crust off your sandwiches?’ For me it was fine, but I know for other people it was much worse.”

Fitzpatrick did admit regret that there would be no splash of blue and yellow in and among the stars and stripes as Europe’s finest look to the gallery for inspiration during the next three days of what will be intense competition. “That’s the disappointing thing, that the US aren’t allowing fans in – well I say fans, they just aren’t allowing people in in general from the UK and EU,” added Fitzpatrick.

“It’s going to be pretty one-sided.

“It always is, home or away, but it would have been nice to have a few of our own in there.”