Ian Poulter has seen off the US Ryder Cup team’s old guard and can’t wait to take a crack at the new breed at Whistling Straits.
The “Postman” has delivered in six previous Ryder Cups – the only one he’s missed in recent times was the loss in 2016 at Hazeltine. Already a legend for his performance at Medinah, he returned in Paris with a vengeance as Europe won comfortably.
Now the era of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and others seems to have passed as Steve Stricker has six rookies on his 12-man team. For Europe, it’s another go round for veterans like Poults, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Paul Casey.
‘They’re all top 20 in the world’
Average age: 2⃣9⃣
Average world rank: 9⃣
The numbers don't lie – this #USTeam is stacked 😳
— Ryder Cup USA (@RyderCupUSA) September 18, 2021
“I mean, it’s a young team, but they’re all top 20 in the world,” he said of the Americans. “This is a strong team. I haven’t run the numbers but is that the strongest team on paper they’ve ever had? Eight of their players are in the world’s top ten.
“It’s another one of those. They have a strong team we know that paper but it’s match play and any player on his day can beat anyone. And that’s all we need to do.”
While the American team contains six Ryder Cup debutants, there’s a double major champion in Collin Morikawa, the Olympic champion in Xander Schauffele and the FedEx Cup champion Patrick Cantlay among them.
“They’re very capable players,” continued Poulter. “They’ve all won all big tournaments and they’re not going to be over intimidated.
‘There’s a different dynamic’
“But they’re going to they’re going to feel something different, something they’ve never experienced before. There’s a different dynamic there standing on the first tee at a Ryder Cup.
“Will that work in their favour against the more experienced on paper team that we have? We don’t know yet, right?
“Match play gives up some incredible results. We will see it again, you always see shock results. This will be no different.”
For Poulter himself, at 45 he’s playing as well as ever and finds he has plenty left in the tank for this format.
‘I’ve played good golf this year’
— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) September 15, 2021
“I feel relaxed and almost slightly less less pressure than if I hadn’t have played the way I have played this year,” he said.
“It was comfortable for me getting the call (from Padraig Harrington). I didn’t feel uncomfortable thinking ‘Oh, I shouldn’t be there in that position’.
“I’d have loved to have squeezed onto the team in qualifying. I could have played an extra event here or there, but I am 45, and I need to stay as fresh as I can.
“I’ve played good golf this year, I feel. And it’s nice to be to be in that position.”
It will be different in Wisconsin with Covid restrictions denying the Europeans travelling support, but there will be some there, and the team will hear them, believes Poulter.
‘Being part of the team is more special’
“There’s no difference for me, the team shirt is the team shirt, whether it’s home or away,” he said. “Being part of the team is more special than anything else.
“Obviously, playing in front of home fans is pretty inspiring; to have 50,000 cheering you on as opposed to what we’re going to get this week.
“But we’ll have a few of them. They’ll come from somewhere, ex-pats or own people. We will hear them.”