How the European Ryder Cup team has been playfully hazing this rookie

Viktor Hovland at his Ryder Cup press conference on Tuesday.

getty images

HAVEN , Wis. — Three years ago, in Paris, the European Ryder Cup team communicated to one other via a WhatsApp group. The camaraderie that is so evident among the Europeans on the course, in press conferences and at victory parties seemed to seamlessly spill over into their digital hangout. Rory McIlroy described the vibe on their chat as “one big love-in,” highlighted by the cheeky wit of Tommy Fleetwood.  

This week in Wisconsin? More of the same, although not via WhatsApp. This time around the Euros have taken their banter — and some good-natured needling — to a group text.

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When Viktor Hovland, the 24-year-old Norwegian who this week is playing in his first Ryder Cup, was asked Tuesday how he’s preparing for what will be raucous pro-American crowds on the burly Straits course, he said, “I’m not going to take anything too personally. I can take a punch to the face. I’ve definitely gotten my beating so far in the group text. I think I’m prepared for some yells here and there.”

Some of that ribbing, Hovland said, has come in the form of old pictures of Hovland that his teammates dug up. Presumably not the flattering kind.

“But it’s all good banter,” Hovland said, “and again, just bringing us closer together.”

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When pushed for more details on the content of the text thread, Hovland said, “Probably shouldn’t disclose too much, but no, it could be anything. Could be logistical stuff. Could just be, Hey, you’re hitting balls and your TrackMan numbers. It could be anything. What are you cooking, what are you eating. Just to kind of get to know each other better. I’d say we’re all pretty vocal in it. It’s not just one or two people just firing off and annoying the rest of the bunch. We’re all pretty active in it.”

Groups texts aren’t unique to the Europeans. In 2018, the U.S. had its own chat going, although the tenor of that conversation wasn’t always playful.

In the wake of that Ryder Cup, where the Americans were thumped by 7 points and Patrick Reed drew the ire of his teammates, Brooks Koepka said Reed “kind of apologized” for unsettling the team.

The channel by which Reed delivered his mea culpa? Yep, group text.

alan bastable

Alan Bastable

Golf.com Editor

As GOLF.com’s executive editor, Bastable is responsible for the editorial direction and voice of one of the game’s most respected and highly trafficked news and service sites. He wears many hats — editing, writing, ideating, developing, daydreaming of one day breaking 80 — and feels privileged to work with such an insanely talented and hardworking group of writers, editors and producers. Before grabbing the reins at GOLF.com, he was the features editor at GOLF Magazine. A graduate of the University of Richmond and the Columbia School of Journalism, he lives in New Jersey with his wife and foursome of kids.