Golf: Danny Willett heckled - but it's no big deal, he says

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Sheffield's Danny Willett joked that he drew the sting from the huge American crowds as Europe fought back in the second session of the Ryder Cup.

The Masters champion was inevitably subjected to heckling and booing from the moment he approached the first tee at Hazeltine following his brother's controversial article criticising American fans earlier in the week.

And after sitting out the morning session, Willett's debut appearance did not go well as he and Martin Kaymer were beaten 5&4 by Brandt Snedeker and Brooks Koepka in the fourballs.

But that proved Europe's only defeat of the afternoon as Darren Clarke's team recovered from a 4-0 deficit to trail 5-3 at the end of the first day.

"It was anticipated," said Willett of the extra attention he received from fans. "They gave me a little bit more.

"There were a few little shouts in there and bits and bobs but hopefully they are all following me around so the rest of the lads can do their business. By and large, it was probably what we expected."

The crowd reaction to Willett was not actually as bad as feared, especially after a raucous morning around the course, and the Yorkshireman dealt with what came his way well.

Some of the home supporters did deliberately try to live up to the Pete Willett stereotype, shouting "baba booey" or other random - occasionally unrepeatable - comments as Willett walked around the course.

But there were no orchestrated attempts to make him the sole villain of the piece, with the abuse he received coming in isolated pockets and without the bitterness targeted figures such as Colin Montgomerie experienced in the past.

Willett was even treated to a chant of "welcome Danny" as he prepared to begin his round, although his practice swings were subjected to exaggerated comedy cheers and a few cat calls referencing his brother.

"We should be hollering this guy," said one spectator at the fourth tee. "But maybe we're too respectful."

Yet while the crowd may not have got overly personal, the atmosphere created by the majority of a conservatively-estimated 44,000 attendees was still fiercely partisan and tough to play in. The queues to enter the course were already huge by 6am and people were determined to make the most of it with their "USA" chants both frequent and loud.

When Henrik Stenson's approach to the sixth green in the morning was greeted by a huge roar, he ordinarily might have expected to see his ball bouncing towards the hole. The Swede, however, had found a bunker and the packed grandstand was revelling in his misfortune.

This lack of sportsmanship became a recurring theme and Rory McIlroy later admitted that was a "little disappointing".

Nine-dollar beer cans were bought, emptied and discarded in their thousands while the crowds lining the greens were around 50 deep in places. The mood got rowdy towards the end of the first session and so excited were the punters Jordan Spieth had to urge them to be quiet as he lined up one putt.

The American players seemed to feed off the crowd throughout a dominant morning although, in a clear contrast to previous Ryder Cups, they refused to get caught up in the emotion. Even Bubba Watson, the master of whipping up the crowd, was a picture of tranquility as he followed in his non-playing role of cheerleader-in-chief.

Perhaps this was just as well as Europe fought back in the afternoon. The crowd became considerably more subdued and even Willett, despite being on the end of a heavy loss, came through the test.