Tiger Woods accused the Royal Melbourne crowd of going “over the top” after a wild third day at the Presidents Cup.
The Internationals head into Sunday’s singles with a 10-8 advantage over Woods’ United States team, but the day was notable for a crowd disturbance that led to Patrick Reed’s caddie being suspended for the rest of the event.
Kessler Karain was involved in an altercation with a fan after Reed and his partner Webb Simpson lost to Hideki Matsuyama and C.T. Pan in the morning four-balls.
Karain admitted he had “had enough” of the hostility shown towards Reed, who has played the role of pantomime villain this week after arriving in Australia on the back of accusations of cheating during the Hero World Challenge.
The caddie told Fore Play: “Riding on the cart, a guy was about three feet from Patrick and said, ‘you f— suck.’ I got off the cart and shoved him, said a couple things, probably a few expletives. Security came and I got back in the cart and left. I don’t think there’s one caddie I know that could blame me.”
Woods, who will go out first on Sunday before taking over his captaincy duties, felt alcohol had played a part in the incident and asked for a more respectful approach on the final day.
Asked how the atmosphere compared to a Ryder Cup, the US captain said: “Well, I think it’s different. There aren’t as many people at this venue because it’s so small, a lot of bottlenecks.
“There’s obviously some yelling. There’s people who have had a lot to drink and have gone over the top. I’ve heard it. I’ve been in the groups playing when it has happened, and I’ve been inside the ropes as a captain witnessing it.
“Bipartisanship is part of playing in team matches, whether you’re home or on the road, it’s part of the deal. As long as the fans are respectful, all we ask is for them to be respectful. Hopefully they will be excited [about] Sunday and the matches and be very respectful of all the players.”
Woods’ Internationals counterpart Ernie Els felt the galleries were “pretty quiet” compared to New York in 2017 and that the Americans should “take it and move on”.
The South African said: “I’ve played in many Presidents Cups. I’ve played in the US many times. If you look back at New York and how these players were treated in New York, this crowd is pretty quiet.
“I mean, we just get treated the same wherever you go as an away game, there’s some heckling going on and we all know that, and you prepare for that, and that’s just the way it goes.
“We shut up and we get on with things. That’s what we did in New York. So it’s part of the game.
“And I’m with Tiger; I’m against heckling. I’m against crowds being disrespectful to the players, but it happens. We as professionals, we move on.
“I think Tiger is one of the ultimate professionals that’s ever played the game. I’ve played with him where he’s been heckled in US Opens and a lot of other places. He’s taken it on the chin and he’s moved forward. He’s been an example.
“Same has happened to me. It’s happened to a lot of players. But I must say, this Aussie crowd, okay, they got a little bit boisterous this afternoon with a couple of beers, but which crowd doesn’t. You take it and you move on.”