LIV Golf rebels braced for brutal reception at the US Open

LIV Golf defector Phil Mickelson knows he could be targeted by heckling fans at this week's US Open. Pic: Getty
LIV Golf defector Phil Mickelson knows he could be targeted by heckling fans at this week's US Open. Pic: Getty

More than a dozen PGA Tour defectors have been warned to expect a hostile reception from notoriously obnoxious Boston fans when the year's third major, the US Open, gets underway at The Country Club this week.

Local loudmouths have descended on the course in Brookline, where 14 golfers in the US Open field will face the American public for the first time since defecting to Greg Norman's Saudi Arabian-backed tour.

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The fact Boston - a city famous for being home to some of the most vocal fans in the United States - is hosting the first event on US soil since the LIV series got underway, has not been lost on the golfing world.

The injection of genuine international intrigue is expected to energise the legendarily vociferous Boston sports fan and turn the golfing spectacle into something better resembling a European football match.

Rowdy golfing tragics lined the fairways and greens at the 140-year-old club during the practice rounds, ready to greet their least favourite golfers with the same reception their ancestors gave the Redcoats at Lexington and Concord.

"It's going to be loud, and it's going to be a lot of fun," said defending US Open champion John Rahm, who has stuck with the PGA Tour and eschewed the bigger, guaranteed paydays offered by LIV Golf.

"There hasn't been a US Open here in a very long time, so they're hungry for it, and you can tell," Rahm said.

The last time The Country Club played host to the US Open was way back in 1988, with the Ryder Cup in 1999 the most recent major men's competition at the Brookline club.

"It almost feels like with what's going on in the world of golf, they almost want to show their presence even more. I don't know exactly what to expect, but I'm really looking forward to it," Rahm added.

One player who is likely to be targeted more than most is Phil Mickelson, the six-time US Open runner-up who is the most high-profile defector to the Saudi-backed series.

Pictured here, Phil Mickelson giving a thumbs up during a practice round before the US Open.
Phil Mickelson gives a thumbs up as he walks off the 18th green during a practice round before the US Open. Pic: Getty

Mickelson said in February that Saudi regime funding the new tour had some "scary (expletive)" but still took a reported $US200 million ($AUD278 million) to play in it.

One of the most popular players in the world, Mickelson said he was unsure if his supporters would abandon him, but seemed to go out of his way to talk up the Boston fans just in case.

"The Boston crowds are some of the best in sports," Mickelson said during a 25-minute media session after arriving in this Boston suburb from last week's LIV event outside of London.

"I think that their excitement and energy is what creates such a great atmosphere," he said. "So whether it's positive or negative towards me directly, I think it's going to provide an incredible atmosphere to hold this championship."

Boston home to some of America's most infamous fans

Golf is typically the most genteel of sports, with its hushed greenside whispers and polite, muffled applause. It is rude to talk during a player's swing; cheering a rival's miss simply is not done.

Sill, there are exceptions.

The Phoenix Open is a beer-fuelled revelry that would not be out of place in the Yankee Stadium bleachers. And here at The Country Club, the 1999 Ryder Cup erupted into a hullaballoo that lives on as "The Battle of Brookline."

During the biennial competition between golfers from the US and a team from Europe, Scotsman Colin Montgomerie was relentlessly heckled for his resemblance to the Robin Williams-in-drag movie character Mrs Doubtfire (as well as former New England Patriots coach Bill Parcells, nicknamed "Tuna").

But those antics were mild compared to what other visiting athletes have experienced in Boston.

Yankees shortstop Bucky Dent has acquired a new middle name - it rhymes with "Bucky" - for the crime of hitting a home run against the Red Sox.

And just last week, Celtics fans greeted Golden State Warriors antagonist and NBA Finals opponent Draymond Green with a vulgar chant. (It also, somewhat unimaginatively, rhymed with "Bucky.")

Seen here, Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green copping it from the fans after he committed a fourth quarter foul against the Boston Celtics.
Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green cops it from the fans after he committed a fourth quarter foul against the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals. Pic: Getty

"Classy. Very classy," said Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who was heckled by a Duck Boat driver - albeit amiably - while walking around town.

"That's just Boston being Boston," The Boston Globe explained on Wednesday in a deep dive into the characteristic cold shoulder of the city's sports fans.

"Rude gestures are simply how we say 'hi' around here."

with AAP

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