Bubba Watson may have inaugurated a new Ryder Cup tradition when, for the second day, he hit his opening drive as frenzied fans stomped and screamed their support.
The Masters champ, who turned golf etiquette on its ear on Friday by urging the opposite of the usual funereal silence that golfers normally demand before each shot, even got Britain’s Ian Poulter in on the act on Saturday as the two opponents began their morning foursome match with chants of "USA! USA!" ringing in their ears.
With Poulter, as intense a Ryder Cup competitor as anyone in recent history, riding the wave of the partisan send-off, the hometown spectators may want to sit on their hands when the bug-eyed Englishman approaches the first tee in Sunday afternoon’s singles finale. After all, why fuel the fire of a potential come-from-behind upset that Poulter ignited in the Euro locker room Sunday night?
"Bubba ... was pretty special yesterday, we were talking about it, and he was going to do it again today," Poulter said after teaming with Justin Rose for a 1-up win over Watson and Webb Simpson -- and before his performance for the ages in the afternoon session. "So why not stand there and enjoy the fun of what it was?
"My heart rate went from, I would say 100 to 180, pretty quickly," said Poulter, who yanked his first shot into a fairway bunker. "It was a great buzz for sure."
If there’s anyone in the 2012 edition of the Ryder Cup who can match Poulter’s ardor for this competition, that guy would be Keegan Bradley. The undefeated cup rookie (3-0 with Phil Mickelson in two foursomes and a four-ball match) has done his fair share of arm-flapping and yelling this week to inflame the galleries. He was his usual giddy self, talking about how jazzed he was to witness Watson’s antics.
"I was on the first tee this afternoon watching Bubba tee off and it was one of the most exciting moments of my week so far," Bradley said. "I was freaking out, I was so excited."
At least one golf watcher was not amused.
"I have a feeling [golf pioneer] Tom Morris might be turning in his grave right now," Nick Faldo scolded after the merry-making on the first tee had died down, prompting solemn Golf Channel yakkers to do all they could to suck the fun out of the joyous moment. "We’ve seen something absolutely brand new; I don’t know whether we’re going to like it or hate it."
Bradley, who’ll play Rory McIlroy in the must-see Sunday singles match (Tiger Woods who?), may not put it quite so prudishly as Sir Nick, but he would prefer that fans refrain from Bubba-like histrionics when he takes the tee. The excitement must just push Phil Mickelson’s personal shot of 5-hour Energy over the edge.
"For me personally, I'd probably miss the ball," said golf’s version of the energizer bunny. "I'm already so jacked up on the first tee that if they started doing that, I don't know where it would go."