Ryder Cup 2021: Ian Poulter aiming to 'annoy' Americans at Whistling Straits
“I'm sure I've annoyed plenty,” said the Englishman, smiling, in reply to being asked if he sensed his passion for the contest and success in it had visibly had an effect on any of his opponents in six previous appearances.
“I mean, my percentage has been really nice, for me, and not for the guys I've played against, so I'm sure that's been pretty frustrating to be on the receiving end of that. It feels nice. I enjoy holing putts and winning matches. It's been a great ride. I'm never going to apologise for it. It's how match play should be played.”
Poulter is making his fourth appearance in the contest on US soil, having been on a winning team on his debut at Oakland Hills in 2004 before sparking Europe’s ‘Miracle at Medinah’ eight years later as he birdied five holes in a row to secure a crucial point in the penultimate session.
Does he still draw on those memories from the match in Chicago? “Always,” he declared. “I'm always looking on the highlight reel. It's pretty hard when you're pretty social media busy and there's often highlights of all the good things you've kind of done through the years, and obviously Medinah is one of those.
“It's good to get those positive vibes, a bit of confidence, and enjoy watching the celebrations that we had and the kind of golf that we played on Saturday and Sunday.”
With the Americans being represented by their strongest-ever side based on world rankings, Rory McIlroy reckons a victory on this occasion would surpass Medinah.
“We'll see how the week pans out to see if or how you want to place the event,” said Poulter in offering his opinion on that view. “It's going to be difficult. We don't have the full home support that we would normally have.
“I'm hoping we have some form of sing songs out there for us lot to entertain everyone, but it's always hard to turn around and say one is going to trump another one and however the makeup of that is going to be. I just think if we can come out on top Sunday night, it will be a pretty special one.”
Poulter has been nicknamed ‘The Postman’ for this event due to the fact he always seems to deliver, having even pulled on a postman’s fancy dress costume during the celebrations at Le Golf National in France in 2018.
“I hate losing,” he said of why the Ryder Cup brings out his best golf. “You see the guy when you play match play, you know what you have to do when you tee up on the first hole. You can control a match. You can dictate a match. You can play certain shots to try and put your opponent under pressure.
“You can't do that in stroke play really unless it comes down to the back nine and the group you're in you're actually clear of the rest of the field.
“It's just a fun game of chess, to be honest, to enjoy what that means, that you're under pressure right from the get-go. It just doesn't happen in stroke play. It's kind of like you plod your way into the tournament, but it's back nine Sunday mentality every single time you tee it up.”
Bryson DeChambeau plans to let rip on almost every hole at the Wisconsin venue, hoping to achieve 200 miles an hour ball speed using a 45-inch driver in the event.
“We’ll see,” said Poulter of whether distance can be a big advantage to Steve Stricker’s side in the 43rd edition. “I don't really know. I'm not a guy that sits down and tries to work out if Bryson is going to be 120 yards in front and how that looks on paper, right.
“I mean, generally through the team they're going to hit it further than we are. The wind is going to change on us on Friday, so certain holes that we've already played are going to play a little bit different.
“There's a blend between long irons and short irons dependent on that wind direction. We've got some short par-4s that if the given wind allows, then some of those are going to be reachable.
“What we have got around these greens is rough and bunkers that are pretty deep. The rough, the lies you get around the greens, you can't predict it. You can miss a green by three feet and have an unplayable lie. You can miss the green by five yards and you have a kind of nice lie.
I think that is kind of the unknown at the minute, and if you're going to start to leak a few here and there, it's going to be difficult. Strategy is going to be really interesting this week of how that plays out.”
Poulter’s only disappointment so far as a player in this event came in 2008 at Valhalla, where he won four matches out of four but ended up on a losing side as Paul Azinger’s ‘pod system’ prevailed against a visiting team captained by Nick Faldo.
“Yeah, that was miserable,” admitted Poulter. “Even though I picked up four points that week, it meant nothing. To do that and lose is pretty depressing. You'd rather lose four matches and win. I'd still be pretty happy on Sunday night if I was to play it out that way this week.”
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