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Ryder Cup star Matt Fitzpatrick insists key to Europe winning is avoiding giving US rival fans middle finger

MATTHEW FITZPATRICK reckons the key to Ryder Cup glory will be resisting the temptation to ‘give American fans the finger’, if the expected torrent of abuse comes Europe’s way.

Fitzpatrick, 27, said reacting to the taunts would be ‘like pouring gasoline on a fire’.


But 2018 hero Tommy Fleetwood will adopt a different approach. 

He wants to feed off the insults, and rely on Europe’s 'family feel' to carry them through.

English golfers make up half of Padraig Harrington’s team, with Fitz and Fleetwood joined by Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey, and Tyrell Hatton.

They have all experienced the unique atmosphere before, but after his dream debut alongside Moliwood partner Francesco Molinari in Paris, this will be Fleetwood’s first outing on American soil.

Fitzpatrick is back for more after admitting he was over-awed in his first Ryder Cup, as Europe were humbled 17-11 at Hazeltine five years ago.

He said: “Listen, the only thing you can do with the crowds is play well and try and win. It's no good turning around and giving them the finger, is it?

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“Like boy, that's just pouring gasoline on a fire. as much as you'd love to do it sometimes. For me, it's just about trying to block all that stuff out, and concentrate on playing your own game.

“I must admit. I can’t even remember if we took much stick in 2016 – probably not, because the Americans were so dominant.

“It's five years ago now, and it actually feels like forever ago. But it was certainly a baptism of fire.”

Fitzpatrick admits the fact that there will be only a scattering of European fans in Wisconsin infuriates him.

He added: “It's pretty annoying that the US hasn't opened the borders for people to come over, because it is going to be incredibly one sided in terms of crowd support.

“I imagine there's going to be hardly any European supporters. No family from our side, just some exp-pats, and I do find that prospect, not unfair, but just a bit surreal.

“It is a shame, and I think it's just really annoying because you know, I was lucky my parents and friends came to my first one.

“Victor Hovland, he's not going to have anyone, and that probably affects the whole experience, and how you look back on it.

Fleetwood, 31, enjoyed a week-long live-in with the European fans in Paris as he and Molinari won all four matches together, and the Southport star dived into the crowds to lead the celebrations when Europe’s victory was confirmed.

He knows it will be very different this time, but insists he is ready for it.

He said: “It will be chalk and cheese, won't it? I've only played one and we had the whole crowd on our side.

“I'm very used to having fans on my side as well, even in America because of the whole ‘Fleetwood Mac’ thing, and the good-natured stuff about ‘when are you going to get a haircut?’.

“But you always get heckled a bit at times. And I'm actually looking forward to it. It's going to be another challenge, another experience.

“I’ve spoken to guys like Paul Casey, Lee, Poults, and they all come up with the same thing – that you have to embrace.

“You have to kind of enjoy it in a way because that's the only way you're going to thrive in that atmosphere.

“I know they won’t mean most of the stuff they yell, so no hard feelings for whatever anybody comes out with.”

Diehard Everton fan Fleetwood says he is sure he will have heard far worse insults at Goodison Park – although none of it directed towards him!

He grinned: “Rory McIlroy said you should never take it personally, and I totally agree with that. You could go to a football game every week, and the visiting team probably get a lot worse than we'll hear this week..

“You just have to take it in its context. It’s just that ours being the sports that it is you're not used to getting that from crowds.

“But I think it's another great thing about the Ryder Cup, home and away.

This event is always brilliant for putting golf on the. Everyone wants to tune in and the fans are a massive part of that.

“And the great thing about a Ryder Cup is you stand together with your eleven team-mates, your captain, vice-captains and backroom staff. You all become a family when you're there.

“You all go into battle together, and that is bound to make it easier to shrug off a few insults. I'm really excited about standing tall with this group of lads.”

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