Ryder Cup: US-based Europeans won’t lose edge, vows Ian Poulter
IAN Poulter has insisted that the Ryder Cup will not lose the edge that has earned it a place as one of the great sporting contests due to the fact Europe still get fired up at the prospect of “killing” their American opponents on a golf course.
One of the main questions that has been posed so far in the build-up to the 39th contest, which starts tomorrow at Medinah, concerns the fact that a third of the European team, including Hitchin-born Poulter, now live in the United States.
They are about to be joined by two others, world No 1 Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood but Poulter is adamant that the essence of the Ryder Cup will never be diluted on the strength of where the Europeans are based or play most of their golf.
“It means too much to Europe for us to ever lose that edge,” he declared. “This event is unique and, while I hate to say it, there is that divide. It’s not that we don’t like each other. We are good friends on both sides of the pond.
“But there’s something about the Ryder Cup that kind of intrigues me. How can you be mates with somebody but, boy, do you want to kill them in the Ryder Cup. It’s great. It’s passion like I’ve never seen before and I love to be able to go out there and beat one of your mates.”
Poulter, one of the European wildcard picks for the match, is relishing the prospect of facing the Americans in one of the country’s sporting hotbeds. Even yesterday, on the second day of practice, European captain Jose Maria Olazabal said he felt the home fans were starting to crank up the atmosphere.
“I’m one of those guys that are going to be out there enjoying the electricity,” said Orlando-based Poulter, who will be making his third successive Ryder Cup appearance and his fourth overall. “Chicago is a great sporting city so I would expect the fans to be very vocal. I think everybody’s ready for that.
“It’s going to be intimidating, but it’s going to be brilliant. For me, it adds to the adrenaline rush and I can’t wait to be part of the fun for three days. I would relish the opportunity to go out there and hit the first tee shot. I wouldn’t say that would be a breeze but, if I was asked, I’d be honoured to go and do that. I would love it.”
In the latest round of captain’s press conferences ahead of the match, Davis Love III showed signs of cracking, emotionally at least, when tears welled up in his eyes at one point. He hadn’t been asked a question that seemed likely to produce such feelings, but the American captain admitted the emotion of the event had started to get to him.
“I told you, Bubba [Watson} and I cry a lot,” he said, referring to the equally-emotional Masters champion who broke down in tears after his play-off win at Augusta earlier this year. “We were both crying at the same table last night.”
As that was happening, the European team were taking part in a Strictly Come Dancing-style competition in their team hotel on the outskirts of Chicago.
Olazabal, who earned a place in Ryder Cup folklore when he strutted his stuff on the green at Muirfield Village after Europe had won the event for the first time on American soil in 1987, arranged for a troupe of professional dancers to help keep his team relaxed.
They were paired up with each of the 12 players, with Lee Westwood revealing he’d been praised for his “hip movement” as he performed a salsa. The winner, however, was the fleet-footed Miguel Angel Jimenez, one of Olazabal’s four assistant captains this week.
With their spikes back on, the Europeans only played nine holes yesterday, when Paul Lawrie, the sole Scot in the team, was in the same group as Westwood, Francesco Molinari and rookie Nicolas Colsaerts.
Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, one of the cast-iron certainties for the opening foursome session tomorrow, were out with Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald, while the final group consisted of Poulter, Peter Hanson, Justin Rose and Martin Kaymer.
“The reason we only played nine holes today is because the boys had a good look at the golf course yesterday. It took them quite a while to play 18 holes and, because we have the gala dinner [last night] and the opening ceremony [today], I wanted them to take it easy for the next two days and be ready for Friday.”
On his possible pairings for the opening session, he added: “I have a few ideas in mind and the boys are playing well so they are confirming the possibilities are there.”
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Tuesday 21 May 2013
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 3 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: West