Things can get very personal at the Ryder Cup.
The atmosphere wavered from boisterous to unpleasant for Spanish pair Sergio Garcia and Rafa Cabrera-Bello without Garcia’s girlfriend, Angela, who politely asked the rowdies to stop yelling “horrible things” at the team at home. outside and their spouses in Hazeltine in 2016.
“I told them, ‘I’m here to support the European team, I’m an American, and you’re embarrassing me.’ People around us joined in and said, “Yeah, you’re embarrassing us too!”
“So I told the guys I wanted to see the American fans be better than that, and they said ok, then later they saw me, they figured out who I was, and they came over to give me a hug and apologized. I think there were four of them, we all hugged and it was okay. “
“There is more heckling now”
Six-time Ryder Cup caddy Fanny Sunesson, the first woman to carry a 1990 major male winner’s bag with England’s Nick Faldo, told CNN how 30 years ago on the Isle of Kiawah, known as the “War on the Shore” – things got so hot that 1993 captains Tom Watson and Bernard Gallacher (who were captains of Europe three times in a row from 1991 to 1995) had to lower the temperature a few notches.
“I think there is more heckling now, although I haven’t been to the Ryder Cup in recent years. I only saw it, which is different. At Kiawah, that was too much. The two captains calmed him down the next time.
“It should be about sportsmanship, it’s not a war. It’s a game.
“However, when the crowd is cheering, it’s great. It’s something special. Most of the spectators are great.”
The roars, the punches, the huge stands and the growing crowd surrounding each green make the Ryder Cup a unique event. And in a sport that focuses on individuality, it’s a new break from sponsors and dollar bills.
Garcia and Sunesson have repeated the word “team” time and time again when describing the role of a spouse and caddy in a week like no other.
“I don’t have bad memories of the Ryder Cup, it’s such a cool team event,” said Sunesson, who now mixes his time commenting for Swedish TV, coaching and speaking.
“It’s such a tiring event, you often do 36 holes a day, but you don’t mind. If you did this for weeks in a row, you’d be totally exhausted. But it’s so special.
“It’s like a great team where you help each other out. It says a lot when players who don’t succeed and have played it want to become vice-captains or even assistants.”
“It’s something special”
Sunesson made reference to Bubba Watson’s near-crash to qualify in 2016, which prompted his emotional nomination as vice-captain while Garcia, a former sports journalist who played golf from scratch, attended the Super Bowl, NBA Finals and Champions League Finals, but wouldn’t miss the ultimate golf party for the world.
“I actually think of the Ryder Cup quite often. This is by far my favorite sporting event: it is something special.
“Monday when we arrive there are a lot of hugs, jokes, smiles and laughs. Every night we have dinner together and then the guys go out to train and it gives the girls, women, partners a chance. of dating we are all so close.
“We have group text from 2016 and 2018 that we still use too, and there’s a new one now. It’s a place where we follow each other’s lives, we celebrate the victories of our spouses and others, we celebrate new babies, our friendship is amazing. “
Garcia said what made the contest – which was first contested between the United States and Britain in 1927 – stand out was the inclusion of so many family members.
“If you’re playing for New York Liberty in the WNBA Finals or the Superbowl, you might not want to have an outside or family distraction. And that’s what makes The Ryder Cup so special, that spouses and partners are part of a great team.
“The Ryder Cup is big business, it’s a big event, they want to win, and if they didn’t think having us with us was useful, we wouldn’t be here.”
“I consider the women part of the Opening Ceremony. It’s the Ryder Cup and the men playing, it’s not the Solheim Cup, but they include us in the Opening Ceremony.
“We come in as a team of spouses and partners and we start on an equal footing. I firmly believe in women’s rights and I have never had this feeling that makes me happy. If I did, I wouldn’t want to necessarily be part of this. “
Harassment and chauvinism
In 1986, when Sunesson was first offered a men’s player bag, even then she had no problem.
The day Brazilian Jaime Gonzalez picked her as his caddy, as she stood in line with Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam, they weren’t chosen until the end, but 19-year-old Sunesson never looked back as a caddy for Jose Rivero, Anders Forsbrand and Howard Clark before Faldo, her first Ryder Cup experience to come to the Belfry in 1989.
“It was almost like I didn’t start carting because I was a girl, but for Jaime it was either not having a cart or having me,” he said. she declared.
“He chose to have me, which was good. He was a cool character.”
Whether it’s tackling rowdies, bullies, and standing up for women’s rights, mother-of-two Garcia’s ‘mission’ is to spread good not only on the golf course, but also outside.
“As a TV host, I have suffered severe bullying and a certain chauvinism in my life which I did not appreciate,” said the 35-year-old, who is launching her own foundation – UGLI – in October. to coincide with US citizenship. anti-bullying awareness month.
“I took the word UGLY and changed it to UGLI: Unique, Gifted, Loved, Individual. Our mission is to literally end bullying forever.
“We need to stop using our phones and computers as shields to say what we want. We can’t treat people like the gum we just walked on.
“I’m excited to do good and change this world and make it a better place. Especially after having kids, and Sergio feels the same, I can’t live in a world where people are so cruel towards each other and people of all ages kill themselves because of something someone told them on social media. I have to do something. “