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Heckler sinks putt after mocking Rory McIlroy, Euro team at Ryder Cup

Tribune News Service • Sep 30, 2016 at 3:30 PM

When a heckler is called out by the hecklee, often it’s time to put up or shut up.

David Johnson did that and more in front of a few of the best golfers on the planet and a full-sized gallery Thursday at the Ryder Cup.

“He putt up,” Henrik Stenson said.

Here’s the skinny:

Johnson, a 30-year-old fan from Mayville, N.D., looked on with thousands of others as Rory McIlroy and Andy Sullivan repeatedly missed a 12-foot putt on the eighth green during Thursday’s practice session at Hazeltine in Chaska, Minn.

Johnson let the group of European Ryder Cup players hear about it from the gallery, so Stenson invited him to come out to the putting surface and show the world how it’s done.

For good measure, Justin Rose plopped down a $100 bill.

Using Sullivan’s putter — about 10 inches shorter than what Johnson is used to — Johnson gave the putt a mighty ride toward the cup.

“A little pacey,” he’d say later. “It was the putt I wanted to hit, just not the right speed.”

Coasting along on Hazeltine’s Ryder-ready greens, the ball rammed the back of the cup and dropped in.

An odd version of the chicken dance by Johnson followed, along with hugs and handshakes from the four pros.

“It was poetry in motion,” Stenson said. “If it doesn’t hit the back of the cup it’s rolling all the way to fringe.”

McIlroy dismissed the notion.

“That’s all the way in the water if it misses,” he said.

Instead, Johnson became an instant internet sensation. McIlroy tweeted the putt from his verified account, and murmurs of the feat trickled through the Hazeltine gallery like smoke from the hot dog grills.

Chalk one up for the everyman.

“He’s the man of the hour, the day, the week,” Stenson said. “The boys were struggling with the line so Dave here offered to come out and show us how to do it. And he certainly did; drilled that 12-footer right in the back of the cup.

“Now he can tell the whole world that the European team are the ones that have the most fun.”

Johnson said he doesn’t plan to spend the $100 bill (which the pros signed) but instead encase it in “a very expensive frame.”

Asked if the show might be repeated this weekend when the Ryder Cup gets underway Stenson didn’t miss a beat.

“There will be a few more (fans) with a few more words I am sure,” he said. “We’ll bring plenty of $100s.”

—Brian Stensaas

Star Tribune (Minneapolis)—

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