Fowler's haircut turning heads

2014-09-22 21:04
Rickie Fowler (AFP)

Gleneagles - Rickie Fowler has shaved a "USA" into the side of his head and American captain Tom Watson has already selected a motivational chant for a Ryder Cup that doesn't even start until Friday.

That's the sort of passion brought out by golf's biennial showdown between Europe and the United States, the 40th edition of which launched Monday with US and European players arriving in Scotland and assembling at Gleneagles.

Fowler, ranked 10th, shocked the squad with his new haircut, which features the "USA" lettring shaved into the right side of his head, extending from back to front over his right ear.

"I thought it was great," Watson said.

"I thought it was terrific. It brings a spirit, a light spirit to the team."

Even European captain Paul McGinley had to take off his hat to the move.

"I think that's great," he said.

"The guy is so passionate about his country that he will go and do that for the Ryder Cup, I think that's brilliant."

Watson, the 65-year-old legend who won eight major titles and five British Opens, also has a counterbalance cheer for American supporters, taken from a popular chant in support of the US World Cup football squad.

"When we hear the 'Ole, Ole, Ole,' we have the US soccer cheer 'We believe that we can win,'" Watson said.

"And it's really exciting when you hear it done. It's pretty cool. There will be some noise out there. There will be some cheering."

Watson is beloved in Scotland, where he won British Open crowns at Carnoustie in 1975, Turnberry in 1977, Muirfield in 1980 and Royal Troon in 1982.

"Just being in Scotland again is very special to me.

"I have somewhat of an affinity for Scotland. Done pretty well over here," Watson said.

"This is a special place. Scotland is where the game of golf was invented and the history of the game is rich here with wonderful stories... I feel like I'm part Scottish that way."

But he knows that legacy won't quiten Scottish fans, who lasted hosted a Ryder Cup in 1973, from cheering against his squad.

"Not in the least," Watson said. "This is what makes the Ryder Cup so great, the partisan nature of it."

The Americans arrived Monday morning in Edinburgh on an charter flight from Atlanta and traveled north into the scenic east Scotland countryside.

"Our team came over in good shape. They are trying to get their legs right now," Watson said.

"I basically told them don't worry about your golf swings for the next couple days, get your body on time, just see the golf course and by Thursday or Friday that's when the focus on the golf swing should start to occur."

Watson's team lacks the hottest US player in 14th-ranked Billy Horschel, who won twice to take the US PGA playoff crown and $12.8 million after Watson made his captain's picks.

"I texted him and said, 'Horschel, damn you, you are a day late, but not a dollar short,'" Watson said.

"As much as you want to have the hottest players on your team, sometimes it just doesn't happen that way," Watson said.

Watson did not pick 22nd-ranked Chris Kirk and also lacks Dustin Johnson, out for personal reasons, and injured Steve Stricker, Jason Dufner and Tiger Woods.

But Watson defended making captain's picks three weeks before the event, saying any later would be a nightmare logistically, and shrugged off any notion the US team might be better off without Woods, a 14-time major champion but only 13-17-3 in Ryder Cup play.

"I would love to have Tiger on the team," Watson said.

"He brings an element of intimidation. He brings an element of great play and competitive spirit. Even though he is not on the team he is here in spirit."


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