By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
MEDINAH, Ill. — If the Chicago Cubs ever win a World Series the applause from Wrigley Field will not be any louder than the cheers floating over Medinah on Saturday afternoon. When Dustin Johnson made a 22-foot birdie putt at the 17th hole there was enough noise to back players off from four holes away. The 17th sits down in a bowl and easily accommodates more than five thousand fans and the acoustics are wonderful.
Face time: When you look at Ian Poulter playing in these matches you see an angry man. Perhaps I am confusing determination with anger, but the Englishman seems to be enraged after making birdies. He ripped off five in a row to defeat the team of Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner, but still scowled on the 18th green. It’s more scary than intimidating.
Bear hug: Tiger Woods walked off the 18th green still looking for his first point of the matches. He and Steve Stricker went 0-3 in the team competition. As he slowly left the green a fellow teammate walked up to him and gave Tiger a huge bear hug and some private encouragement. That person was Phil Mickelson. It’s been a great Ryder Cup for the lefty. His enthusiasm and leadership is evident. Tiger responded by returning the hug to Mickelson.
Sky high: The Europeans had everyone looking skyward on Saturday as a plane wrote inspirational messages above the course. As play began the skywriting read, “Do it for Seve. Go Europe.” Latter another message said, “Rory’s got your #, Go Europe.” Later, a message asked “Anyone seen Tiger?”. Woods sat out the morning sessions.
First tee: The first tee in Ryder Cup competition is one of sport’s great atmospheres. Ian Poulter set the tone when he asked the gallery not to be quiet but to cheer as loudly as possible while he was swinging. Bubba Watson then asked for similar treatment, much like he did a day ago. Golfers are not bothered by constant noise; it’s the occasional cough breaking the silence that causes a hitch in the backswing.
Gold medal: Michael Phelps is no longer doing laps in the pool; he’s now walking golf courses. The Olympic champion followed Watson and Webb Simpson around the course, walking every hole of their matches. Phelps and Bubba have been texting for months and this was the first time the Olympian has seen Bubba play in person. There are unconfirmed reports Bubba wore a “Team USA speedo” beneath his Ryder Cup uniform.
Shoes: Ian Poulter wore the lavender shirt of the European team on Saturday but he was the only player to match his shoes. The Englishman sported a pair of lavender loafers, which elicited several comments from the Chicago gallery. One man shouted, “Hey Ian, I like those shoes. My wife has a pair just like them.” The anonymity of the gallery gives bravado to the meek.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.
- Ian Poulter
- Tiger Woods
- Chicago Cubs
- Bubba Watson
- Dustin Johnson