Ian Poulter has been on the winning side in four of his previous six Ryder Cup appearances, yet he’s relishing the “underdog” role this week.
Team Europe has won nine of the past 12 Ryder Cups, but the United States is 17-4 on home soil.
Poulter was on the European team that beat the United States by a point at Medinah Country Club in 2012. The U.S. rebounded to win the Cup 17-11 at Hazeltine four years later, and Poulter said everything about trying to win away from home is more difficult — from the partisan crowds to the course setup.
“Everything is stacked against us,” Poulter said Wednesday. “When you have that, when you can go in as underdogs, when you can turn the tide and actually come out victorious, it means a little bit more.”
Poulter, 45, has long been a thorn in the side of the U.S. He enters this week with a 14-6-2 overall record, including a 5-0-1 singles record that includes a slew of memorable clutch putts.
“I’m sure I’ve annoyed plenty,” he said when asked about whether his intensity gets under the skin of players he’s beating. “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.
“I enjoy holing putts and winning matches. It’s been a great ride. I’m never going to apologize for it. It’s how match play should be played.”
It remains to be seen how many pairings Team Europe captain Padraig Harrington sends Poulter out in on Friday and Saturday. The Englishman is 4-4-1 in fourball and 5-2-0 in foursomes.
The one thing for certain is that Poulter will be on the course at Whistling Straits for Sunday singles. And that is just the theater he has thrived in for a half-dozen previous Ryder Cups.
Poulter said the U.S. fans have been “brilliant so far” during practice rounds as he embraces what could be his final Ryder Cup as a player.
“It’s a great buzz,” he said. “You only have to look around and all the grandstands are red. Everything that you look at, the fans, 98 percent are obviously going to be U.S. fans this week. It’s difficult from start to finish. It’s hard. It’s not easy to play away from home.
“As much as we feel comfortable as a team, to know we’re underdogs, to know that we have to play extra special this week to get the job done. It feels pretty rewarding at the end of the week if we can get it done.”
–Field Level Media