By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
MEDINAH, Ill. -- With seven members of the European team playing on the PGA TOUR, and the other five making regular appearances in the United States at majors and World Golf Championships events, the Ryder Cup isn't the same bitterly divided affair it was several decades ago.
Just because friendships now cross continents and oceans, though, doesn't mean the Ryder Cup has lost any of its passion. Just ask Ian Poulter, who says he loves the Ryder Cup more than any other event in the world.
"It means too much to Europe; it means too much to us for it ever to lose that edge," he said. "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 how you can be great mates with somebody, but, boy, do you want to kill them in Ryder Cup."
The fiery Poulter's choice of words may have been somewhat unfortunate, igniting a small flurry in the tabloid press. But the Brit is clearly in his element, even though he knows the Chicago crowd likely won't be kind.
"It's going to be intimidating, but it's going to be brilliant," Poulter said. "I couldn't or wouldn't want to be in any other situation this week. It fills you full of pride and passion to go out there. Yes, there is a divide this week, and there should be a divide this week; but Sunday night, we'll all have a beer together and enjoy what hopefully should be a great spectacle."
Bubba Watson understands Poulter’s passion. He's the son of a Green Beret -- the last time his late father saw him play golf was at the 2010 Ryder Cup -- and this week is his chance to represent the United States and honor the military, in the process.
"As a fan of golf, Ian Poulter is an amazing story," Watson said. "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 love, I respect him very much, and I love how passionate he is about winning it. ...
"That's the same way our team is. And again, 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. I don't really care who I'm facing. ...
“We're not trying to disrespect or make fun of any other player. It's just we're trying to win that trophy, and his passion is about that trophy just like our passion is about winning that trophy."