Tag Archives: chicago

ESPN to show NBA in UK and Ireland until end of the season

ESPN strike deal to show NBA on UK screens until the end of the season

|

UPDATED:

14:02 GMT, 5 December 2012

The NBA will return to British screens this Thursday after ESPN reached a deal to show the remainder of the season, as exclusively revealed by Sportsmail.

Eastern Conference leaders New York Knicks and Miami Heat will be the first game shown by the broadcaster as part of a deal that will showcase three live games from the US per week.

The revived partnership, which had expired last summer, will also see ESPN air the NBA All Star Game in February as well as the first and second round NBA Play-off games, Western Conference Finals, and NBA Finals.

On the ball: New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony will launch ESPN's return to UK screens

On the ball: New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony will launch ESPN's return to UK screens

NBA SCHEDULE – DECEMBER 6-12 – ON ESPN

Thursday 6th Dec, 1 am.*
New York Knicks @ Miami Heat
Friday 7th Dec, 2:30 am
LA Lakers @ Oklahoma City Thunder
Monday 10th Dec, 1 am
San Antonio Spurs @ Houston Rockets
Tuesday 11th Dec, Midnight
New York Knicks @ Brooklyn Nets
Thursday 12th Dec, 1 am
Dallas Mavericks @ Boston Celtics

*morning of Friday, December 7th

'We're very pleased to have the NBA returning to ESPN this season, and are looking forward to getting straight into the action and bringing UK and Ireland fans the world’s top basketball league with some great early match-ups,' said ESPN EMEA's head of programming and production, Simon Potter.

British fans will now get the chance to watch London 2012 Olympics stars Luol Deng and rookie Joel Freeland in action for Chicago Bulls and Portland Trailblazers.

Accompanying ESPN’s live coverage this season will be studio shows NBA Tonight and NBA Countdown, providing round-ups of all the action from around the league.

Hands on: British fans will be able to watch Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng in action

Hands on: British fans will be able to watch Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng in action

Dan Carter: It"s top secret

It's top secret: All Blacks No 10 Carter talks about his love of beds and basketball player Michael Jordan

|

UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 30 November 2012

Who is your Sporting hero

I loved watching Michael Jordan when he was with the Chicago Bulls and winning games for them by himself.

In rugby, I grew up admiring All Blacks John Kirwan and Andrew Mehrtens, I was really lucky to get to play with Andrew.

Hero: Dan Carter has always been a fan of Michael Jordan

Hero: Dan Carter has always been a fan of Michael Jordan

What would you be if you weren't a sportsman

I was on my way to a proper fitness instructor qualification before rugby took over.

My dad is a builder and I did some work as a labourer for a time, so I might have gone into something like that.

Career highlight

My Test debut for the All Blacks, in 2003 against Wales in Hamilton.

It was always my dream to put on the jersey.

… and the worst moment

Getting injured during the last World Cup.

The timing and severity of it was a real blow that I found pretty tough to handle.

If your house was burning down, what one possession would you save

I know it would be physically impossible because it is so heavy, but it would be my bed.

Because I am away so much in hotels, I really love just being in my own bed. In fact, I love sleeping in general.

Flair player: Dan Carter will hope to leave England's hopes of salvaging the Test series in tatters

Flair player: Dan Carter will hope to leave England's hopes of salvaging the Test series in tatters

What's your top TV show

I've enjoyed the last few series of Entourage, about a young movie star surrounded by his friends from home.

Favourite song

Right now, the one that I am most into is Rudimental's Feel the Love.

Last film you saw

I am not a big film watcher and about the only time I get to see them is on aeroplanes. Even then, I don't always watch them.

The last one might have been with Cameron Diaz about lots of people being pregnant (What To Expect When You're Expecting).

We're expecting our first child so the subject is of interest.

Which three people would you invite to your dream dinner party

Michael Jordan was my sporting hero and I have never met him, so it would be good to find out what he is like and talk sport with him.

Barack Obama would be a good guest, to find out what is really going in the world.

I have always been an admirer of Elle Macpherson: she would be very easy on the eye around the table.

Admirer: Carter is also a fan of model Elle Macpherson

Admirer: Carter is also a fan of model Elle Macpherson

Can you cook Best dish

I can make a proper lasagne, although I suppose that isn't too difficult. I'm quite proud of my cheese sauce.

Your favourite holiday destination

The W Retreat in the Maldives, which was beautiful.

The clear blue waters of the sea are the thing I remember most.

In a film of your life, who would you like to play you

Brad Pitt is an awesome actor, so I would like it to be him. It's amazing what they can do with make-up these days.

Tell us a secret… I've got a real fear of snakes.

We don't have many of them in New Zealand, thankfully, but when I'm in South Africa I am wary of them.

If I'm playing golf there and hit the ball into the rough, I leave it out of fear of what I might find.

NFL viagra secret: Chicago Bears star Brandon Marshall reveals on-field boost

Why are NFL stars so pumped up They take VIAGRA, claims Chicago Bears ace

|

UPDATED:

11:49 GMT, 30 November 2012

Professional sportsmen have been glugging Red Bull and popping caffeine pills for some time now in a desperate attempt for a last-minute pick-up before a match.

But it seems American footballers have taken that drive for peak performance to a new level, at least according to one player.

No wonder, he's smiling: Chicago Bears star Brandon Marshall claims NFL players take Viagra to boost their on-field performance

No wonder, he's smiling: Chicago Bears star Brandon Marshall claims NFL players take Viagra to boost their on-field performance

NFL Viagra secret revealed

Chicago Bears’ Brandon Marshall claims NFL stars are taking Viagra before games to boost on-field performance.

Marshall told the Mirror: ‘Some guys will do whatever they can to get an edge. I’ve heard of some crazy stories.

‘I’ve heard of guys using Viagra, seriously. Because the blood is supposedly thin, some crazy stuff.

‘It’s kind of scary with some of these chemicals that are in some of these thins, so you have to be careful.’

Up for it: Viagra is legal in the USA, provided it is prescribed by a doctor

Up for it: Viagra is legal in the USA, provided it is prescribed by a doctor

From a sports science perspective, the pills would work in a similar way as they do in the bedroom. The pills relax and widen blood vessels, in turn speeding the flow of oxygen to the muscles and boosting performance.

Viagra is legal in the USA provided it is prescribed by a doctor — it is even advertised on American television by former NFL coaches.

David Beckham: Beckham: I wear No 23 because Michael Jordan was my hero… now he gives me restaurant tips

Beckham: I wear No 23 because Jordan was my hero… now he gives me restaurant tips

|

UPDATED:

00:15 GMT, 30 November 2012

David Beckham has revealed one of the perks of being famous in America: Getting restaurant tips from Michael Jordan.

About to leave the MLS after six
seasons, Beckham has always worn the 23 shirt that Jordan wore for the
Chicago Bulls basketball team.

Ready for action: Galaxy team-mates David Beckham and Robbie Keane

Ready for action: Galaxy team-mates David Beckham and Robbie Keane

Leading the way: David Beckham in training for the 2012 MLS Cup

Leading the way: David Beckham in training for the 2012 MLS Cup

Now – in an interview with ESPN – the former England captain has admitted that he has begun to use the friendship to his advantage.

'I actually spoke to him the other day,' said Beckham.

'I was at their party and he said: “You know let’s just exchange numbers and we’ll speak to each other”.

'And then I called him up, I think I was in Washington, and I said: ‘I know you’ve spent a bit of time here, I need a restaurant. Can you tell me a nice Italian restaurant’

'And he told me a great Italian restaurant.

'My friend was like: “C’mon really Really Usually you call a directory for a restaurant. Now you are calling Michael Jordan”.

'It’s funny.'

Beckham wore the number seven for many years at Manchester United but switched to the number 23 when he moved to Real.

Plenty to ponder: Beckham has had many offers

Plenty to ponder: Beckham has had many offers

David Beckham at a LA Galaxy

David Beckham at a LA Galaxy

'I chose the number 23 because of Michael Jordan,' Beckham admitted.

'When I first joined Real Madrid, I’d worn number 7 for many years for Manchester United.

'And when I moved to Real Madrid, Raul wore number 7 so there was no way that I was even think about taking it off of him and I don’t think it would have been accepted very well if I had even asked that question.

'So 23 was available and I’d always been a huge fan of Michael Jordan and I’ve loved him as a player and a person.

'Everything that he represented. Everything that he did in his career. I was a huge fan so yeah it was a no brainer. And then when I moved over here…it was just kind of a number that I wanted to keep because I’ve been successful with it with Real Madrid, and like I said being a fan of Michael Jordan.'

As he prepares to move his family back from America and accept a new football challenge, Beckham has paid tribute to his wife Victoria.

He said: 'My wife’s amazing.

'She’s really understanding.

'The other halves always go through difficult times because we’re always away, we’re always playing in different countries and different parts of the world and it’s difficult, so my wife she just wants what makes me happy and she knows that playing this game makes me happy.

'And she’s always left those playing decisions down to me.

'Family decisions we’ve done as a couple always.

'Whatever’s the best for our children, you know that’s always our first priority.

'But with my playing side, she’s always helped me out with the decision but it’s always down to me.'

ESPN will have live coverage of the MLS Cup on Saturday at 9:45pm. The full interview with Beckham will air on ESPNFC Press Pass: Beckham’s Goodbye to Hollywood on Friday at 10pm

David Beckham teams up with Snoop Dogg for A Christmas Carol animated version

Becks teams up with rap star Snoop Dogg for animated version of A Christmas Carol

|

UPDATED:

10:31 GMT, 28 November 2012

A digitised David Beckham has helped bring the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol into the 21st century to put the frighteners on hip-hop star pal Snoop Dogg.

Beckham plays the role of the ghost of Christmas present to help 'Ebenezer Snoop' recover his festive spirit in the star-studded adidas cartoon campaign.

Beckham, 37, tells the Gin and Juice rapper: 'I'm the ghost of holiday present. You sir have been a real ball. Things just aren't the same when you're not in the game.'

Scroll down for the video

Ghost of Christmas past: Beckham is sent to help 'Ebenezer Snoop' rediscover his festive spirit

Ghost of Christmas past: Beckham is sent to help 'Ebenezer Snoop' rediscover his festive spirit

Kicking back: David Beckham and Snoop Dogg

Also featuring in the dream sequence advert, sparked when Snoop Dogg takes a puff on a mysterious looking pipe, are US Open winner and Olympic gold medallist Andy Murray, British singing sensation Rita Ora and Chicago Bulls NBA basketball star Derrick Rose.

Snoop, 41, said of the ad campaign: 'You know you a boss when people wanna see you in animated form.'

On the move: Beckham is set to end his stay with LA Galaxy

On the move: Beckham is set to end his stay with LA Galaxy

Beckham recently announced his decision to quit MLS soccer side LA Galaxy to pursue one more challenge before he hangs up his boots.

The former Manchester United and Real Madrid sensation has been inundated with a host of offers including French side Paris Saint Germain and several Australian A-League outfits.

Head boy: Snoop Dogg stars in the adidas advert alongside David Beckham

Head boy: Snoop Dogg stars in the adidas advert alongside David Beckham

New QPR boss Harry Redknapp has also spoken of his admiration for Beckham's professionalism and would jump at the chance of having the former England captain on board to help in the West London club's battle to beat the drop.

But Beckham could have the chance to spend even more time with his mate Snoop after the international music star claimed he is tempted to buy a slice of Celtic after being knocked out by the passion of their fans in their recent stunning home win over Barcelona in the Champions League.

End of the American Dream: Beckham has been linked with big-money moves to PSG and Australia

End of the American Dream: Beckham has been linked with big-money moves to PSG and Australia

Beckham turning out for Snoop Dogg in the famous green and white hoops at Parkhead Many Celtic fans would think they have more chance of signing Tiny Tim but it would certainly be some Christmas present.

DM.has('rcpv1993663952001','BCVideo');

NBA: James Harden inspires Houston Rockets to beat Detroit Pistons

50m Rocket man Harden starts NBA season with a bang as Houston beat Detroit

|

UPDATED:

10:26 GMT, 1 November 2012

Houston Rockets opened their NBA season with a stirring 105-96 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday thanks to James Harden's 37 points and 12 assists.

Houston acquired Harden on Saturday in a trade with Oklahoma City and agreed a five-year, 50million contract extension with him.

Detroit led 83-72 early in the fourth before Carlos Delfino's four three-pointers and Harden shifted the momentum to Houston.

A pretty penny: Houston Rockets signed James Harden (right) on an eye-watering 50m contract

A pretty penny: Houston Rockets signed James Harden (right) on an eye-watering 50m contract

Star man: Harden (left) goes to the basket past Detroit Pistons guard Brandon Knight

Rocket man: Harden (13) drives past Detroit Pistons centre Greg Monroe

Star man: Harden drives to the basket on his way to a big haul of 37 points against Detroit Pistons

Brandon Knight led Detroit's scoring with 15 points.

At Toronto, George Hill scored the winning basket with two seconds left to complete the Indiana Pacers' rally for a season-opening 90-88 win over the Raptors.

David West scored 14 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, and Paul George had 14 points and 15 rebounds for the Pacers, who trailed 84-74 with just under six minutes left. Roy Hibbert added 14 points for Indiana.

Kyle Lowry shone for Toronto with 21 points, and Jonas Valanciunas had 12 points and 10 rebounds in his NBA debut. Andrea Bargnani had 16 points, and Jose Calderon added 15 for the Raptors.

Decisive: Indiana Pacers' George Hill (right) scored the winning basket against the Toronto Raptors

Decisive: Indiana Pacers' George Hill (right) scored the winning basket against the Toronto Raptors

Three-pointer: San Antonio's Tony Parker

Three-pointer: San Antonio's Tony Parker

San Antonio's Tim Duncan scored 24 points and Tony Parker hit a huge three-pointer as the Spurs opened the season with a 99-95 victory over the New Orleans Hornets in the debut for top draft pick Anthony Davis. Davis scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds.

In other games, Joakim Noah scored 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the Chicago Bulls' 93-87 win over Sacramento Kings. Richard Hamilton added 19 points, while Carlos Boozer chipped in with 18 points and eight rebounds.

Spencer Hawes had 16 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Philadelphia 76ers to an 84-75 win over the Denver Nuggets, while Mo Williams and Marvin Williams each scored 21 points to lead the Utah Jazz to a 113-94 victory over the Dallas Mavericks.

Golden State's Carl Landry scored 12 of his 17 points in the in the fourth quarter as the Warriors overcame an awful post-contract night by Stephen Curry to edge past the Phoenix Suns 87-85 in the teams' season opener.

Curry, who earlier in the day agreed to a four-year, 27million extension with the Warriors, missed his first 10 shots from the field and wound up two of 14 with five points.

Joel Freeland to make NBA debut

Joel stacks up just fine with Kobe as Brit bids to crack NBA

|

UPDATED:

23:54 GMT, 30 October 2012

Joel Freeland was stacking shelves in a Sainsbury’s in Surrey 10 years ago but on Wednesday he will face Kobe Bryant of the LA Lakers as he makes his NBA debut.

The Great Britain basketball player, 25, signed a three-year deal with the Portland Trail Blazers this summer worth a reported $9million (5.6m), just eight years after taking up the sport.

Freeland was the first Briton to make the NBA draft when he signed for Portland in 2006, but the forward failed to get any playing time and returned to Europe to gain more experience. Six years later he has made it back to the States and will today fulfil his ambition of playing in the ‘best league in the world’.

Standing tall: Joel Freeland is set to make his NBA debut

Standing tall: Joel Freeland is set to make his NBA debut

‘It’s a dream opening game,’ said Freeland, who represented Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics. ‘It’s going to be my debut in the NBA. I’ll be thinking of my family at home. It’s going to be epic.

‘It wouldn’t really matter to me as every team in the NBA has great quality and amazing players, but it’s incredible: to even be on the same court as people like Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash is going to be an amazing experience.

‘I have been getting better every year and established myself in Europe to get the chance to come over here. It’s a dream come true.’

Basketball was the ‘obvious choice’ for 6ft 10in Freeland after he broke his left leg playing football aged 14 and spent two weeks in hospital.

He played for the Thames Valley Tigers and then Solent Stars before joining Spanish third division side Gran Canaria II. Now he is an NBA ‘rookie’ once again, joining Luol Deng of the Chicago Bulls as Britain’s representatives in the NBA, and has ambitions to promote his sport in England.

Tough task: Freeland will face Kobe Bryant on his debut

Tough task: Freeland will face Kobe Bryant on his debut

‘I did get into basketball fairly late,’ said Freeland. ‘I was 16, nearly 17. But Sainsbury’s does feel like a long time ago. I worked part-time in a supermarket in Farnham. It was just to earn a little bit of money.

‘I was 16 when I left there, but I cherish that part of my life. I have been given the chance to play in the best league in the world. It’s something I have been fighting for my whole career.

‘Basketball hasn’t progressed how we would like it to in England. I thought after the Olympics it would get a lot better than it has. It’s fighting against huge sports like football and it’s hard to get it out there. Can I provide that push I hope so.’

Meanwhile, Cheshire Jets have been thrown out of the British Basketball League (BBL) because of their financial problems.

New owner Hadyn Cook saved the club last month but asked the league to postpone next Sunday’s game against the Mersey Tigers as he tried to raise cash. The BBL rejected the request.

Watch Joel Freeland’s NBA debut against the LA Lakers live or on demand via NBA League Pass. For more information and for a free trial before November visit www.nba.com/leaguepass

Ryder Cup 2012: Hard to miss Michael Jordan

The tee room: Hard to miss Jordan

|

UPDATED:

22:35 GMT, 28 September 2012

Michael Jordan has been an integral part of the USA team here and was out and about inside the ropes on Friday.

A superstar like him standing 6ft 6in is fairly recognisable anywhere, but Jordan was particularly conspicuous at Medinah for the simple reason that the golf crowd is almost 100 per cent white.

Star appeal: Michael Jordan

Star appeal: Michael Jordan

USA gunning for Garcia

Who is the player the Americans most
want to beat in the European team You
might think it was Ian Poulter, with his
cocksure attitude and declarations that
he wants to 'kill' the opposition. But
according to a well-placed source the
man they most want to put one over is
actually the equally combative Sergio
Garcia.

Pack your thermals

The Chicago weather looks set fair for the weekend, but what of Gleneagles being played the same weekend in 2014 The courses there were closed on Thursday due to torrential rain and, although temperatures are due to peak at 14C there this weekend, they can plunge to near freezing during the night at this time of year.

Fair play to Furyk

Jim Furyk refused relief to his opposition around the second green, but quickly showed the best of golfing manners on the 10th when, just off the green, the swish from his practice swing just fractionally moved his ball. Furyk immediately called a penalty on himself and in effect that conceded the hole.

Bubba likes it loud

No golfers like anything but hush on the tee – unless you are Bubba Watson, the man whose bottom lip quivers at the sight of the Stars and Stripes. He teed off to the sound of the crowd clapping and cheering, orchestrated by caddie Ted Scott waving his arms like a triple jumper at the end of the runway. The drive was unspectacular, down the right into the light rough.

Ryder Cup 2012: Martin Samuel – Superhero Rory McIlroy falls to earth

Superhero McIlroy falls to earth as Americans shatter his aura

By
Martin Samuel

PUBLISHED:

00:13 GMT, 29 September 2012

|

UPDATED:

00:13 GMT, 29 September 2012

Take me on, he challenged. And they did. They took him all the way to the last at Medinah Country Club on Friday morning. Then they took him and his mate to the cleaners in the afternoon. They massed the forces of American golf, and then some, to take out the world No 1.

The United States threw everything they had at Rory McIlroy on the first day of the Ryder Cup.

They threw the inspirational presence of Michael Jordan in the gallery, they threw the boisterous barracking of those famed Chicago sports fans, they threw the player American captain Davis Love regards as the greatest putter in the world right now: Brandt Snedeker. All to no avail. And then they threw Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley, the hot streak pairing in the morning foursomes. And, finally, they found a way through.

Rory McIlroy

Under pressure: Rory McIlroy feels the heat

Captain Love caught a break when his form partnership ran into McIlroy and Graeme McDowell as the second match out in the afternoon fourball competition and made them look ordinary. It is a different ball game from here.

Former Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger compared McIlroy's current status to that of Seve Ballesteros, and perhaps in McIlroy and McDowell, European captain Jose Maria Olazabal felt he had an echo of his old alliance with Ballesteros, too. By close of play on day one, however, Mickelson and Bradley had gone some way to dispelling that idea.

They paraded round the amphitheatre that is the 17th like conquering heroes after Mickelson had put his tee shot to within three feet. The Northern Irish pair, two down with two to play, conceded immediately. The Americans had put Rory in his place. Today is now a big one for him.

Chip off the block: McIlroy finds the hole from the edge of the green and celebrates with partner McDowell (below)

Chip off the block: McIlroy finds the hole from the edge of the green and celebrates with partner McDowell (below)

Perhaps weakened by a game won on the last hole that morning, McIlroy and McDowell struggled from the first. They were three down after three and fell to four adrift after eight, the final score of 2&1 barely doing America's domination justice. Once behind on the first, at no time did the scoreboard for the match show any colour bar red.

It could not have been more different from the morning session when McIlroy and McDowell took a confident three-hole lead, handed it back, and then rallied to win defiantly on the last. At the end of those 18 holes, McIlroy was upright, the bull's-eye on his back unmarked, his first point of the Ryder Cup on the board. From there, however, it became very clear how tough it will be to operate as the main man at a tournament that inflames such nationalistic passion.

'Get in the hole' became 'get in the water' when McIlroy was over the ball. It did not help that his partner McDowell seemed to be obeying those instructions at key moments. The Ryder Cup is golf's great team contest but, even so, being Rory must have felt very lonely at times.

Fans watch the play of Jim Furyk, Brandt Snedeker, Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell on the 17th green

McIlroy is plainly relaxed in McDowell's company and tried his best to smile through the tension, but he will not have had many harder days than this. The first game, against Snedeker and Jim Furyk, was hardly easy, but the hush as McDowell sank the decisive putt on the 18th green told the story of a psychological point won. America had taken their best shot at McIlroy and friends and missed. They then found their range in the afternoon, it must be said.

Talk had been of the blow that could be struck by defeating McIlroy in his first game, but it was America's form guy who blinked under pressure. Snedeker is in superb nick, but his wayward tee shot on the last allowed Europe's victory.

Snedeker retired hurt from the afternoon action, while McIlroy and McDowell were rushed into battle once more. By then, however, the complexion of the scoreboard was changing. Peter Hanson and Paul Lawrie were losing hugely to Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson, and when the second American pair streaked ahead it put Europe into a tight spot. 'We're coming for you, Rory,' they shouted from the bleachers, and suddenly it did not sound like an empty threat.

Controversy: Graeme McDowell (C) remonstrates with Jim Furyk over a ruling at the second

Controversy: Graeme McDowell (C) remonstrates with Jim Furyk over a ruling at the second

How different from earlier, when McIlroy's strength of character dominated. The first shot of the 39th Ryder Cup revealed the exquisite torture of team golf, a mighty hook from McDowell that took leaves and twigs from a tree and nestled just north of Captain's Club II, but short of hospitality tent 36, belonging to the Aeroterm Vanquish Group.

It could have been golf's equivalent of Steve Harmison's first ball of the 2006-07 Ashes. Instead, McIlroy strode deep into corporate land and left his recovery shot just short of the green. Europe halved the hole. It set the standard for McIlroy's morning turn, his determination further cemented by a little episode on the second.

McIlroy's tee shot came to rest near a sprinkler. McDowell immediately claimed relief, America – Jim Furyk in particular – objected. The chief referee was summoned. He sided with America. Furyk looked McIlroy straight in the eye. 'You do understand, don't you' he said. He might as well have added 'sonny'. Furyk has close to 20 years on McIlroy.

Sandman: McIlroy plays from a bunker during Friday morning's Ryder Cup foursomes

Sandman: McIlroy plays from a bunker during Friday morning's Ryder Cup foursomes

So fractious was the mood that the
pairs could then not agree on whose turn it was to putt, and the pin was
used to measure distance from the hole.

'It's not going to be a nice match
now,' said Darren Clarke's mum, part of a large European entourage
following the game. 'I've never seen anything like that at the Ryder
Cup.'

McIlroy, though, grew from the incident. Faced with a difficult chip from the back of the fourth green, he sank it with a master craftsman's precision. His celebration – fist clenched, face unsmiling and defiant, eyes coldly furious – would not have been out of place on the football pitch. That sprinkler nonsense had made him angry and, like The Hulk, America wasn't going to like him when he's angry.

Yet even before the afternoon session there were signs of mental fatigue. Three up standing on the 13th tee, Team Northern Ireland were comfortable. Even when Furyk sank a par putt to claw a hole back, Europe's win seemed assured. But 15 is the ultimate risk-reward hole, a short par four with a green that can be taken on from the tee, but is guarded by serious water.

Stars and stripes: Phil Mickelson celebrates with wife Amy (R) after defeating McIlroy and McDowell

Stars and stripes: Phil Mickelson celebrates with wife Amy (R) after defeating McIlroy and McDowell

Furyk went bold, almost drove the green. McDowell tried to follow him, found the lake. It seemed a poor call. He could just as easily have laid up and trusted McIlroy to target the pin. Now the crowd were raucous and the lead cut to one. At the next, Snedeker put his second shot to three feet. All square.

And that was how it remained until the last, when Snedeker cracked, sending his tee shot wildly right. McDowell found sand with his second. Now it was McIlroy's moment. He stepped into the bunker and lofted the ball close.

McDowell did the rest. It was gladiatorial golf at its finest. They started an argument: he finished it.

By the afternoon, though, the scoreboard had been painted red. McIlroy looked exhausted. McDowell had struck his last shot of the day in the drink. 'Oh baby, I wish I could go 36 more,' said Bradley. Then again, he doesn't have a dirty great bull's-eye on his back.

Ryder Cup 2012: Chicago bearpit is America"s 13th man – Martin Samuel

Hope you packed earplugs! Chicago bearpit is America's 13th man

|

UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 27 September 2012

A critical hole, Phil Mickelson called the 17th at course three, Medinah Country Club. He said its amphitheatre effect gave it a special significance. ‘You can really feel it as you play,’ he added.

And the United States will be hoping to feel it at Medinah this week, particularly on Sunday when the Ryder Cup hits its peak. They will be hoping to feel it from a breed known as the Chicago sports fans, much ballyhooed around these parts.

Just about every American player who has trooped through the media tent this week has fielded a question about the frenzy of the local support. Even Luke Donald, an Illinois resident for 15 years, was asked to characterise what makes a Chicago sports enthusiast special.

Patriot: An American golf fan watches play during Thursday's practice round ahead of the Ryder Cup

Patriot: An American golf fan watches play during Thursday's practice round ahead of the Ryder Cup

So notorious is this fervour that Saturday Night Live had a recurring sketch about it. Bill Swerski’s Superfans ran for two seasons, 1991 and 1992, and typically featured a group of blowhard Chicagoans gathered in the sports bar run by Mike Ditka, legendary coach of the Chicago Bears NFL franchise. They would gorge, smoke, drink and predict outlandishly huge victories for their favourite sports teams.

Skits had them discussing who would win out of Ditka and a hurricane (Ditka, unless the hurricane in question was Hurricane Ditka) or how many points Michael Jordan would score for the Chicago Bulls if he played the entire game alone, on a recliner (he might be kept to under 200).

The dialogue would invariably end in a heart attack caused by the over-consumption of Polish sausage — pronounced sassage — or a toast to ‘Da Bears’ or ‘Da Bulls’. All around the table wore dark sunglasses and thick moustaches, like Ditka.

On Sunday, the uniform is intended to be red, as the PGA of America implore those attending Medinah to show their support for the home team. Be our 13th man, is the instruction. Chicago sports fans will need every last drop of energy, however, if they are to drag this American Ryder Cup team over the line. For those sitting at the back of that critical 17th watching practice rounds on Wednesday, the home team were offering very little to paint the town red about.

Long before a hapless flunky had managed to roll the team buggy down a steep slope, there was disquiet in the bleachers. The 17th is a 193-yard par three across water, and, although no player got wet, not enough hit the green for the comfort of the home crowd, not even Tiger Woods. From the 12th hole, water is a feature at Medinah, with the 13th and 15th, in particular, offering the risk-reward combination that makes for thrilling matchplay.

Watery grave: The hazard by the seventeenth green could claim some high-profile victims this week

Watery grave: The hazard by the seventeenth green could claim some high-profile victims this week

‘The 13th will be vital momentum-wise as you’re heading down the stretch,’ said Mickelson. ‘My take on the 15th is that it is an easy birdie laying up, but while it is technically reachable from the tee, it is really not possible to drive. As disappointing as it will be for fans, we have to play what’s in front of us, and the lowest score will be the shot laying up.’

Desperate measures, however, may dictate otherwise. An impending defeat might inspire one last bid for glory. Here’s Bubba Watson on the same dilemma: ‘With my four-wood, depending on wind conditions, I can reach the 15th. There are a lot of factors that go on with that: wind, pin location, how I’m hitting that day, where we are in our match. They will all determine what goes on at that moment.’

Also by then, the boisterous mood may be pulling the participants in some strange directions, not least as cold canned beer was being sold even in the stands during practice rounds, just as it is in American sports arenas. Vendors walked with the supplies in cooler trays hung from the neck. ‘Beer man here!’

Lee Westwood says he was pursued by a supporter dressed as a ghost at Valhalla in 2008, the last time America won. ‘He kept jumping out and shouting “Boo!”,’ he recalled. Chicago’s sports fans are unlikely to be more refined, or even as subtle.

The players’ reaction to that could cut either way, of course. The eyes of Davis Love, America’s captain, filled with tears as he answered a mundane question concerning Mickelson two days ago, and Watson — known as Blubba after breaking down on winning this year’s Masters — admits he has already shed tears during practice rounds.

Inspired: Phil Mickelson (left) says he is relishing the atmosphere at Medinah Country Club

Inspired: Phil Mickelson (left) says he is relishing the atmosphere at Medinah Country Club

‘The first day going up on the first tee, I had a pretty big roar, and that was special to know that the crowd was behind us, behind me,’ he said. ‘It was an honour and I might have teared up a little bit, but nobody noticed, so it was good.

‘It’s just that trophy. It’s funny, it’s just that little trophy we want to win so bad. And it’s the United States flag. The military wears that flag everywhere they go; they give us the freedom to play golf, to play the Ryder Cup. People I’ve never met fight for our freedom, so I hope to hit some good shots for them.

‘I haven’t been in the military and unless there’s a draft I’m not going to be, so this is the one chance I get to represent our country and, I hope, represent it well. The passion comes from that. All the people that pull for me, even the ones who don’t like me in the US — now they cheer for me in this one event.’

Yet does America care as much as Bubba When the Chicago Tribune wrote last year of the city’s drive to attract more visitors, the prospect of hosting the Ryder Cup north-west of downtown did not rate a mention beside the G8 and NATO summits that took place in May. Nor is the city alive with Ryder Cup fervour. Sports talk here still centres on the NFL and the prospect of the Chicago White Sox reaching baseball’s post season.

Spooky: Lee Westwood (right) says he was pursued by a spectator dressed as a ghost at Valhalla in 2008

Spooky: Lee Westwood (right) says he was pursued by a spectator dressed as a ghost at Valhalla in 2008

So if the Ryder Cup has wider importance it is that it engages America in team competition against the rest of the world. The Olympics aside, that does not happen too often. FIFA are doing their best but the progress of US soccer players in the World Cup is hardly headline news back home. America still engages on its own terms: sending NFL teams to play a one-off fixture at Wembley rather than nurturing a global contest; calling a domestic baseball competition the World Series. The growth of the Ryder Cup, therefore, is uncharted territory.

‘It seems like each two years everything doubles,’ said captain Love. ‘The people watching, the number of cameras. Our country has caught on, thanks to Seve Ballesteros and Bernhard Langer, really. It’s like the America’s Cup yacht races — I never heard too much about them, until we started losing. Then everybody got real interested. The PGA was having a tough time selling the Ryder Cup, but those guys made it something America is now passionate about.

‘There are golf fans who don’t know much but the Ryder Cup. We just went through an Olympics, and this is our Olympics. People realise our team is going up against an unbelievable team from Europe, and they want to see what happens.’

Bill Swerski’s Superfans would at this point predict a United States victory, 29-0, with Mike Ditka carding 52 while playing with a billiard cue, but realistically this should be another European win. It may, however, need steely resolve and a set of ear plugs.

‘Walking to the first tee on Tuesday, I knew we weren’t in Wales any more,’ said Matt Kuchar. ‘There was such an eruption of excitement when we got to there: it was an awesome feeling being on home turf.’

A Golf Channel poll, however, has 71 per cent of voters making America the underdogs. Whether Medinah can be another Valhalla for the men in red may well be out of the hands of Chicago’s sports fans.