Ryder Cup 2016: Danny Willett says brother's article 'puts a downer' on debut

Danny Willett signing autographs
Willett, like the rest of his European team-mates have signed autographs galore during practice
Ryder Cup 2016
Venue: Hazeltine National, Minnesota Dates: 30 September - 2 October
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live, highlights on BBC Two plus live text commentary on the BBC Sport website. Details

Europe's Danny Willett has conceded his brother's "wrong and ill-timed" article criticising American fans has "put a downer" on his first Ryder Cup.

Peter Willett called Americans a "baying mob of imbeciles" in a piece written for a golf magazine.

Danny, who apologised on Wednesday and said his brother had said sorry to him, admitted it had been "tricky to focus".

"I have to be relatively selfish about it - I appreciate it is his career, but it's my career too," he added.

"Peter's a writer, and unfortunately that's not quite panned out great the last few days that he's associated with me.

"If his last name wasn't Willett, nobody would really be making that much of a fuss about it. It was just an unfortunate circumstance."

A fan holds an ice pack on his head after being hit by a stray Danny Willett drive
Willett hit a fan on the head with a wayward drive on the second hole during practice on Thursday

Willett, 28, is hopeful that the incident will fade away when play gets under way with Friday's opening foursomes at 13:35 BST.

One American fan was clearly heard shouting "want any cookie dough" in reference to the offending article during practice on Thursday but Yorkshireman Willett said: "The fans have been great. There's a few shouts out there but you can expect that.

"There are some pretty rowdy US fans at every Ryder Cup, that's the nature of the beast. We don't mind a bit of heckling - we hope it doesn't go too far.

"Hopefully everyone can kind of draw a line under it and we can just come out here and play some golf.

"I'm not saying it will be completely forgotten but hopefully it's died down a bit more."

American Patrick Reed, who top-scored on his Ryder Cup debut with 3½ points at Gleneagles in 2014 and made shushing gestures to the home crowd in an attempt to fire up the US challenge, has asked fans to "forgive and forget".

The 26-year-old said: "The first Ryder Cup is such a special and awesome moment, so to have something distract you from enjoying it is unfortunate.

"I heard that his family was embarrassed, that they were thinking about flying home, and that's something that just can't happen.

"I'm hoping the fans can put it aside and allow the rookies, not only on our side but their side, to enjoy it and allow Danny to enjoy the week.

"It hasn't affected us in any way. I hope that our fans don't just completely annihilate them."

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