CHASKA, Minn. -- Friday ended with a celebration the likes we've never seen from Rory McIlroy. Saturday began with one by his partner, Thomas Pieters, who shushed the Hazeltine crowd after making a birdie. OK, so we saw Patrick Reed do the same thing on Sunday at the 2014 Ryder Cup, but on a Saturday? And on the FIRST hole?
Things are getting heated at Hazeltine early.
Playing in the first foursome match on Saturday morning, Pieters and McIlroy looked like they would go 1 down after the opening hole after Rickie Fowler drained a 25-footer for birdie that caused an early eruption from the Hazeltine crowd. But the 24-year-old Belgian responded by making his own from 20 feet.
Opponent Phil Mickelson, for one, seemed to get a kick out of Pieters' reaction. Then again, no one likes a good display of showmanship like Phil.
As for Pieters, like Reed in 2014, he has the potential to be this year's Ryder Cup breakout star. After the long-hitting rookie played well on Friday, he had the media laughing hard with two moments. One, when Rory asked for a reporter to repeat his question and Pieters, who was an NCAA individual champion at Illinois, said, "He asked what your favorite flavor of ice cream is." And two, when after answering a question in Dutch, he turned to Rory and said, "Did you get all that?"
We didn't, Thomas, but we like your style.