HAVEN, WIS. — They're back, these 13 Minnesota golf fans who cheer on their team all decked out in red, white and blue at Ryder Cups home and away.
Collectively calling themselves the American Marshals, they've worn horns, braids and hockey jerseys at every Ryder Cup since 2008 at Valhalla in Kentucky.
This week's 43rd Ryder Cup — delayed a year at Whistling Straits on Lake Michigan's shore in Wisconsin — is their seventh. Look for them in a prominent spot to chant and sing at Friday morning's first tee.
There are 13 of them — the 13th man to the 12-man American team, get it? — with a long waiting list of those seeking to join.
They have their own website, americanmarshals.com, and mailing list. They last gathered in Paris in 2018.
That's where they said a prayer to remember former Timberwolves coach and executive Flip Saunders, a member of their group in 2008 at Valhalla and Medinah near Chicago in 2012. He died in October 2015, 11 months before the Ryder Cup came to Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska.
"But he has been here with us for all of them," said American Marshals member John Picek, a retired financial executive who lives in Plymouth.
In a shameless attempt to win over the home crowd, European players subtly wore Green Bay Packers green and gold colors and not so subtly sported those foam cheeseheads.
They then flung the foam to fans in the first tee bleachers before a morning practice round on a cold, windy day at Whistling Straits. Crowds for this Ryder Cup will be almost exclusively pro-American because of COVID-19 travel restrictions on fans traveling from Europe.
"Look, the crowds are great," Europe captain Padraig Harrington said. "Everybody embraced that, as you would have seen on the first tee. ... So a bit of fun and we got a nice reception with it. That's kind of what you want on the practice days. Obviously business starts on Friday, but at the moment, the players are enjoying it and having a good time of it."