IAN Poulter revealed his determination to make the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles under his own steam as Justin Rose tipped Lee Westwood to secure a ninth appearance in the biennial event next month.
Poulter, whose inspirational performance helped Europe pull off their “Miracle at Medinah” two years ago, is just outside the automatic standings as the battle intensifies to make Paul McGinley’s team.
Heading into the US PGA Championship starting tomorrow, Jamie Donaldson, the man in ninth spot, leads Luke Donald by less than one world ranking point while Stephen Gallacher and Poulter are also within striking distance of the Welshman.
While the race for automatic spots on the United States team ends on Sunday, Europe’s qualifying campaign runs until the end of the month and Poulter is quietly confident he can avoid needing one of McGinley’s picks for Perthshire. “Obviously I am well aware I am not in, and that a good week can get me in,” said the Englishman at Valhalla yesterday. “I know I’m about 15 world ranking points behind and I know I can make that up, either here or the first FedEx event (the Barclays Championship in a fortnight’s time).”
Graeme McDowell, Europe’s match-winner at Celtic Manor in 2010, said earlier in the week that he felt Poulter would definitely earn a wild card if he needed one. “That’s not for me to say is it?” said Poulter when that was put to him. “That would be a lovely little story for you if I start giving it all that b******s, and you’re not having it,” he added, smiling. In addition to Donald, Gallacher and Poulter, the only others in with a realistic chance now of either qualifying automatically or securing a pick would seem to be Miguel Angel Jimenez, Francesco Molinari, Joost Luiten and Westwood.
“I had assumed JD was a cert,” observed Rose, the Scottish Open champion, of Donaldson’s position suddenly having become precarious. “I think I see it the same as most people, that G-Mac, Poults and Donald will get in one way or the other, either automatically or as wild cards.
The other card if the positions remain as they are? “I would say Westwood’s a slight favourite, but wouldn’t be surprised if something dramatic happens this week,” he added.
Both Poulter and Rose played in the European side that lost here in the 2008 Ryder Cup – the only US victory in the last six matches.
Handed a wild card by Nick Faldo, Poulter recovered from an opening-session defeat in the company of Rose to win his next four matches, including a 3&2 singles success over Steve Stricker. He bristled, though, at the suggestion that tasting defeat in only his second appearance in the event had played a part in him becoming Europe’s new Ryder Cup talisman.
“That didn’t help,” insisted Poulter. “There’s nothing to be gained from feeling (absolutely sick) like that. You want to block it out and forget it, the most disappointing result I have ever had in my life. Sure, you don’t want to feel it again but you don’t stop that by remembering it. You’re motivated to make sure it doesn’t happen again but you pull that from good thoughts, not bad.”