By Mitch Phillips
GLENEAGLES Scotland (Reuters) - Bubba Watson played down his newly-acquired "big dog" epithet on Tuesday and said he was ready to curb his exuberance if he felt it could help his American team deal with what is likely to be a red-hot Ryder Cup atmosphere this week.
Earlier on Tuesday United States captain Tom Watson said the big-hitting two-times Masters winner would probably be the man the Europeans would most like to beat, just as his team have their crosshairs firmly fixed on Ian Poulter.
Both players have reveled in the noisy atmosphere of the Ryder Cup, particularly in 2012 when they positively encouraged the crowd to keep on cheering right through their swings when they squared off in a memorable foursomes.
Despite both players missing their fairways with their opening drives, they continued to gee up the crowd all the way round the Medinah course.
"When you're at home, you can do other things and be goofy, but when you're away, you don't want to do anything like that, even though we had some fun a couple years ago with getting the crowd revved up," Watson told reporters.
"I'm just here to play golf, make some putts. But you know, the Ryder Cup brings out a different audience sometimes and people that might not play golf. So for us it was about how you're going to try to grow the game. So I thought that making it fun instead of a six-hour round would be my way of doing it. And so we tried to make it fun a couple years ago.
"I've won a few matches, lost a few matches and still haven't won a Ryder Cup, so obviously it hasn't propelled our team to win one yet."
Watson laughed off his captain's "tribute" however, saying "he's making that up. He's making attention come to me when it's the other guys."
Though Watson the younger might grab the attention in the same way Poulter does, he has some way to go in matching the Englishman's ability to harvest points.
Poulter is yet to win a major but finds his best form for Europe every two years, having won all four of his singles matches and boasts a remarkable 12 wins and three defeats from his 15 matches through four Ryder Cups.
Watson, a double major champion, has lost five of his eight matches, including both singles, in his two appearances in 2010 and 2012 but bears his rival no ill-will.
"Poulter, what he's done in The Ryder Cup, obviously has grown the game," said the American.
"There's been some kids out there that want to do the same thing he's done, the way he's come up, his background. I mean, what a story that is and what a great talent that is. His passion, his energy and his great play and his great putting."
Watson also dismissed his captain's claim that this week represented a chance for redemption for Medinah, when the U.S. managed to throw away a 10-6 lead to lose on the final day.
"It's golf that motivates me, I'm not worried about two years ago," he said.
"I've lost many a golf tournament in my day. I've only won a few in my life. Every time I get to the course, I want to beat whoever it is I'm playing, if it's my buddies at home or if it's the members or if it's at a professional golf tournament.
"That's really what it is about me, just trying to win that little trophy, that's our goal.
"I'm not worried about what happened a few years ago. If I did that, I'd be a terrible golfer because I lost a lot."
(Editing by Justin Palmer)