FARMINGDALE, N.Y. – As raucous New York fans cheered on the contenders down the stretch of the final round of the PGA Championship at Bethpage, some players were left with only one question: what will this place look like during the Ryder Cup?
The Black Course will host the biennial matches in 2024, and from the moment that decision was announced in conjunction with the PGA of America bringing this week’s event to Long Island, the partisan nature of the crowds became a talking point. That continued this weekend, as fans lined the finishing holes and weren’t shy in sharing their opinions as Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson battled for the Wanamaker Trophy.
England’s Matt Wallace tied for third for his best career finish in a major, and his eyes grew wide at the prospect of participating in a Ryder Cup in such an electric setting.
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“It’s going to be absolutely mental,” Wallace said. “I was speaking to Rickie Fowler on the putting green this morning and he said if it doesn’t get out of hand, it will be the loudest Ryder Cup ever. And that’s something I look forward to. I love that.”
That affection might not have been felt by all of Wallace’s potential European teammates. Paul Casey, who returned to the Ryder Cup as a player last fall for the first time in a decade last fall, surmised the environment will be “intimidating.”
“It’s like a 13th man for the U.S. team,” Casey said. “Big advantage.”
But the full-throated cheers around these parts can sometimes work against players, as Koepka found out down the stretch as some fans shifted to Johnson’s side. It’s a dynamic that will only become more distinct in a team, match-play setting. Rory McIlroy rallied from a near missed cut to salvage a T-8 finish, but when asked about what the crowds might be like in five years’ time he paused for a moment and opted to bite his tongue.
“No comment,” McIlroy said.
Of course, Koepka and the Americans might have a different perspective on things. Asked about the potential crowds while once again seated next to the Wanamaker Trophy, Koepka offered a stern warning to his European counterparts.
“Good luck to Europe with the fans,” Koepka said. “I can’t wait to play it. I’m excited already thinking about it. This is one hell of a place to play the Ryder Cup.”