“I understand where Poults is coming from,” Watson said on the final practice day at Medinah. “I love it. I love watching his passion. The guy is great for the game of golf.”
Poulter’s comments came after he was asked if he could see a future in which the biennial contest lost its edge because so many Europeans have homes in the States. The Florida-based 36-year-old said: “It means too much to us for it ever to lose that edge.
“This event is unique. I hate to say we don’t get on for three days, but there is that divide – and it’s not that we don’t like each other. We are all good friends, both sides of the pond, but there’s something about Ryder Cup which kind of intrigues me.”
And Watson, who lost three of his four matches on his debut at Celtic Manor two years ago, could not agree more.
“It’s funny, we’re friends with all of them,” the big-hitting left-hander said. “We’ve played golf with all of them for years. We know them all. We know their families. It’s just that trophy, it’s just that little trophy we want to win so bad. So it’s really not a dislike for the other team. It’s just a dislike for any opponent, no matter who the opponent is.
“It’s just like the FedEx Cup. We were mad at [Brandt] Snedeker because he won, and I wanted to win it. But now I’m pulling for that guy.”
Watson would also seem to be “pulling” for Poulter, adding: “As a fan of golf, Ian Poulter is an amazing story. Love Ian Poulter to death. It’s amazing watching where his career started and where it is now. It’s amazing to listen to him talk about where he picked up range balls, he worked in the pro shop, did everything, and now he’s at the Ryder Cup. So I love his passion, I respect him very much and I love how passionate he is about winning it.
“It’s the little gold Ryder Cup is what we’re trying to get, and again it doesn’t matter who it is that I’m facing. If I was facing y’all or facing Poulter or facing Phil Mickelson, it’s about winning the cup.”
Watson looks set to partner fellow major winner Webb Simpson at Medinah, US Open champion Simpson being one of four rookies on the home side, along with Snedeker, Jason Dufner and 2011 US PGA Champion Keegan Bradley, who is expected to partner Phil Mickelson.
“Bubba and I are good friends away from golf, and I think that’s what makes us a good team,” said Simpson, who also partnered Watson to three wins out of four in the 2011 Presidents Cup. “He’s laid-back. What you see in his golf videos and all the other funny stuff he does, that’s him on the golf course. He still is a competitor. You can’t win the Masters and not be a very tough competitor. But his approach to the game is laid-back and then, when he has 30 seconds to hit a shot, he’s serious. I am a little more serious, he kind of relaxes me and I kind of help him focus on golf and draw him back to what we need to be looking at.
“He’s definitely a clown and everybody laughs at him, and he’s a good guy to have on the team.”
So far this week, Matt Kuchar’s main role has seemingly be to beat all-comers at table tennis in the home side’s team room but the 2012 Players Champion is also relishing his first Ryder Cup on home soil after making his debut at Celtic Manor.
“I think walking to the first tee on Tuesday, I knew we weren’t in Wales. That was just such a big difference to me,” Kuchar said. “It was so exciting knowing that we were on home turf and there was such an eruption of excitement when we got to the first tee. It was an awesome feeling.
“It’s been one of my major goals to make this team for a number of reasons. Once you play your first team competition, you don’t want to miss out on another one.”