HAVEN, Wis. — The 43rd Ryder Cup doesn’t begin play until Friday morning and already the European team is on the offensive.
The charm offensive.
In a positively brilliant bit of strategy on the part of Team Europe, its players on Wednesday were clad in the green, yellow and white colors of Green Bay Packers, who of course are beloved in these parts. The European players, too, showed up at the first tee for practice rounds wearing Cheeseheads and tossed them into the stands to the fans.
All’s fair in the Ryder Cup when it comes to currying favor of the local fans on foreign soil. Particularly this year with COVID-19 travel restrictions severely hampering European fans from flying to the U.S. to support their beloved Ryder Cup side with “ole, ole, ole, ole’’ chants.
Whatever might work shall be tried.
“When we were doing the clothing with (designer) Loro Piana, they were talking about maybe bringing some Irish colors in for me,” European captain Padraig Harrington said on Wednesday with a straight face. “It is a nod to Wisconsin and obviously to Green Bay that we’ve gone with this, we’ve gone with the colors. And obviously the cheeseheads and throwing the things up there is a bit of fun for the fans that are here. The Wisconsin fans are very appreciative, so we want to show our appreciation back.
“It’s nice. We think the colors turned out nice. We think the outfit looks really good, and I think the players are pretty stoked out there that they’re doing something to show their respect for the local state we’re in.”
Harrington revealed that this plan was put into place more than 18 months ago.
“When you’re going through the clothing with Loro Piana, you’re looking at the different colors,” he said. “The obvious one (was), ‘Oh, do you want to wear some green for Ireland?’ I’m thinking, ‘Well, look, this is a European team. Let’s do something different.’ Then I said, ‘Why not recognize Wisconsin where we’re going to play,’ and it fit in very nicely then to go with the Green Bay Packers.”
Harrington said the Team Europe reached out to the Packers with the idea and it was received well.
“It was just a really nice idea, and obviously grew a little bit when it came to the cheeseheads and the foam and the hats,” he said. “And they were very good, Green Bay Packers. We’ve been in contact. They bought into it, too, and they supplied the hats and that, so it worked very well on all sides.
“And now,” Harrington went on, “I’m a fan for life. I’m a Patriots fan, so now I’m a Green Bay Packers fan. I changed allegiance somewhat.”
It’s some kind of one-up on Team USA, particularly considering that it’s captain, Steve Stricker, is a Wisconsin native.
“Yeah, look, everybody is out here to get on well with the crowds,” Harrington said. “We obviously can’t sign autographs this week with COVID, which is something that traditionally we would do. These fans have come out and they’ve come out on a cold day. They’ve come out to watch us, and we want to give them something to watch.”