Europe players go on charm offensive with ‘cheeseheads’ to appeal to local fans
Europe’s players launched a charm offensive ahead of the 43rd Ryder Cup as they adopted the team colours of the Green Bay Packers and threw “cheesehead” souvenirs into the crowd.
On the second full day of practice at Whistling Straits, the visiting team wore predominantly white tops with green and yellow stripes in tribute to the NFL’s Packers, who are based an hour north of the course in Green Bay.
They also donned foam “cheeseheads” – the nickname for Packers fans which derives from a Dutch word used by residents of Illinois to insult people from Wisconsin – before giving them away to delighted fans in the grandstand surrounding the first tee.
“When we first went on to the tee the fans didn’t know about it and they went wild,” European captain Padraig Harrington said.
“The Wisconsin fans are very appreciative and we want to show our appreciation. We think the colours turned out nice and I think the players are stoked they are doing something to show their respect for the local state they are in.”
The scenes brought back memories of the 2004 Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills, when Harrington was one of the players under captain Bernhard Langer who also went out of their way to get the home fans at least partially on their side.
“Everybody is out here to get on well with the crowds,” Harrington added. “There’s no doubt about that. We obviously can’t sign autographs this week with COVID, which is something that traditionally we would do.
“These fans have come out and they’ve come out on a cold day. They’ve come out to watch us, and we want to give them something to watch.
“It’s lighthearted. You want it that way in practice. It’s somewhat respectful of the Green Bay Packers, and they were very much on board with this, so a bit of fun and we got a nice reception with it. That’s kind of what you want on the practice days.”
Ian Poulter drew the biggest cheer when his first attempt to throw a cheesehead into the crowd lacked the required height and bounced off the grandstand.
US captain Steve Stricker admitted it was a “smart” move by the European team, adding: “Why wouldn’t you, when you come over to foreign soil, try to win some fans over, right?
“We do the same thing when we go over there and I’m sure they realise that we are on US soil and with the travel restrictions and all that, they’re trying to round up as many fans as they can. We’d be doing the same thing over there.”
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