In a well-attended news conference Thursday at Hazeltine, Willett reiterated that he was disappointed by the tone of the article, written by his brother, Pete, which described American golf fans as, among other things, a “baying mob of imbeciles.”
Of the 14 questions Willett was asked, 11 were about his brother.
“I have now read it,” Willett said, “and I don’t think the language was obviously all that great. I think a lot of the things that were said can be taken a very bad way, and obviously that’s what’s happened. If it wasn’t associated with me, we wouldn’t be here talking about it. We’d be talking about the 12 guys and trying to get on and play some golf tomorrow.”
Willett said that he spoke to his brother twice Wednesday and that he apologized for the distraction. He conceded that it has “put a bit of a downer” on his first Ryder Cup.
During the final practice round Thursday, the Englishman said he heard only a few jeers from the crowd.
“It was all right,” he said. “It was what you can expect. … You don’t mind the odd bit of heckling, but you hope it doesn’t go too far.”
In a light moment toward the end of the presser, Willett was asked how his brother’s comments will impact his Christmas gift this year.
He managed a smile. “Family is family,” he said. “He’s still my brother.”