New golfer? Ian Poulter getting a Ryder Cup captain’s pick wouldn’t make sense if that was the case.
Here we have a man ranked 50th in the world, chosen in front of someone like Justin Rose.
In his entire career, Poulter has achieved just three PGA Tour victories and no major championships, while the most recent season has been unsuccessful.
But the first thing you need to know about The Ryder Cup is that none of it really matters when it comes to the talismanic superstar of Team Europe.
There was never any doubt that he would get a wildcard for the fifth time in what will be his seventh appearance.
In the previous six, the beating-chest Englishman is undefeated in Sunday singles, earning a formidable reputation as a “postman” who always delivers.
Poulter characterizes a European team miles away from its American counterparts in the world rankings – and if that were played on paper, bets on the American team would be suspended.
But unlike every other event on the calendar, The Ryder Cup elevates teamwork and no one captures its spirit like Poulter.
The famous tournament demands great personalities. It intimidates and engulfs the unexpected golfer.
Etiquette gives way to volatility, fans aren’t afraid to yell at your backswing or yell worse things at you.
Coherence gives way to the capacity to produce the sublime in a precise and pressurized moment.
As Billy Casper said in 1967, “Have you ever tried hitting a golf ball without oxygen in your system? “
Unlike many, Poulter loves it all. His presence on the golf course, or even at the table, cannot be ruled out.
Conversely, with just three wins since 1997, Team USA often looks like Manchester City immediately after Shiekh Mansour took over in 2008, scintillating with talented individuals, who don’t know how to play together.
Just take Tiger Woods, for example: arguably the greatest golfer of all time has recorded 21 losses in 37 games, most of them in foursome and on four balls.
His infamous pairing with Phil Mickelson in 2004 is a perfect illustration of how much more the tournament is about being the best golfer.
Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth were the last Americans to fall out in 2018, while Captain Steve Stricker this time faces the ongoing feud between Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau.
Poulter, on the other hand, reveled in the shared glory. An enthusiastic footballer in his early days, he understands the demands of the Ryder Cup better than anyone.
Speaking of his famous, crazy and deranged celebrations, which we have seen so often over the years, he once said, “It’s an inspiring time to be able to putt and share that passion with everyone.
“Maybe he was the footballer I wanted to be back at the time. Part of the team.
A footballer at heart, Poulter doesn’t have many opportunities to pound his chest and celebrate with his teammates in the calm, solo environment of golf – it doesn’t quite suit him.
He previously wore an Arsenal jersey at the Abu Dhabi Championship in 2006, drawing heavy criticism, and authorities subsequently banned football shirts from the course.
Poulter even loves the idea of wearing a kit, feeling part of something bigger than himself, even if that means no wacky tartan pants.
Perhaps that’s what turns the 45-year-old from an average Tour player into a Ryder Cup superhero.
Like Michael Jordan on the buzzer or Serena Williams against the championship point, the great athletes of all time are determined by their ability to perform under the most intense pressure.
Think Didier Drogba in the cup final, Tom Brady in the Super Bowl, or Woods in a major league. When the heat rises, so do they.
Poulter thrives with a hostile crowd and intense pressure, to the point where he’s definitely more likely to putt under these conditions. And he does, every time.
Bob MacIntyre may have had a great season, but Stricker would much rather see him come down 18th than Poulter when all is well in Wisconsin.
He’s technically the worst player on Padraig Harrington’s squad this week, but you can guarantee it: Team USA stars will be praying for everyone except Poulter on Sunday.
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