Ryder Cup: Ian Poulter accepts decision to leave him out of fourballs

IAN Poulter yesterday insisted he understood the decision to leave him out of the second session on the opening day of the Ryder Cup, despite having claimed a ninth win in 12 matches.

Poulter and Justin Rose beat former world No 1 Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker 2&1 to make it 2-2 after the morning foursomes, but was then left out by European captain Jose Maria Olazabal for the afternoon fourballs at Medinah.

“It’s not disappointing,” Poulter said. “Well, I would love to have played five matches, but I realise that we are a team. That team is very, very, very strong this year, and Ollie really wanted to get everybody playing on Friday.

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“So four guys have got to change from the morning round, and that’s obviously going to be difficult. He (Olazabal) said to me that he would like to keep me fresh going through Saturday, Sunday. I found out yesterday afternoon.”

Two of Poulter’s losses in the Ryder Cup had come against Woods, but he and Rose never trailed in the match and arguably should have completed a more emphatic win against a seriously off-form Woods.

The 14-time major winner hit a number of wild tee shots, with one on the par-five seventh hitting a spectator on the head, but another on the 15th was heading into trouble before hitting a tree and bouncing out just short of the green.

That led to a winning birdie, but Poulter holed a vital par putt to halve the 16th and closed out the match on the next to hand Woods his third consecutive defeat with Stricker in team play.

“I was delighted to finish that match off,” Poulter added. “Tiger has been two of my three defeats in this Ryder Cup format and Justin and I were pretty pumped to get out there and kind of get that point on the board.”

Asked if he was surprised to be left out while Woods was sent out again with Stricker, Poulter added: “Yeah, but he’s Tiger Woods. Is (US captain) Davis Love going to sit Tiger Woods? He’s the guy they get out there to fire them up. He didn’t quite fire them up this morning, but you never know. When Tiger is on he’s on and he’s very impressive, but when he’s not, he’s not.

“It’s a brave captain to leave him out.”

Much had been made this week about world No 1 Rory McIlroy becoming a “target” for the US players in the same way that Woods has been for European players in the past, but Poulter added: “It would be a lot easier for Ollie to sit Rory than it would be for Davis to sit Tiger.

“I think it’s completely different. Tiger had been world No 1 for how many consecutive years, but Rory has just taken that mantle.

“Tiger is Tiger, and Tiger is going to want to go out and play five matches. He knows if it clicks at any moment out there on the first few holes, he finds his form, then he’s going to be a very tough man to beat.”

One of the memorable images from yesterday’s play was of Poulter roaring, clenching his fists and then glaring like a boxer trying to strike fear in an opponent after sinking that putt on 16. “That’s me being me, I guess,” Poulter said. “Ryder Cup is like no other. You can’t do that in any other situation. It means that much. That really is how much it means.”