WITH his eyes bulging and fists pumping, Ian Poulter is the scourge of American golf.
Blessed with an uncanny knack of converting passion into Ryder Cup points, Poulter was by a country mile Europe's leading man as Jose Maria Olazabal's team pulled off the greatest victory in the history of this phenomenal team event.
Poulter's life journey from his first job as assistant pro and golf shop manager in Chesfield Downs in Essex to the pinnacle of Ryder Cup golf is testament to the astonishing will power which has established the 36-year-old as the world's ultimate match-player.
In the moments of wild celebration after the peculiar final-green capitulation of Tiger Woods to Francesco Molinari had eased the visitors 14.5 to 13.5 points ahead, Olazabal suggested "the Ryder Cup should erect a statue to Poulter" so great was his contribution to the European cause.
So what has turned Poulter, who would have much preferred to play at Arsenal than Augusta as a boy and who twice went on trial to Spurs, into the greatest Ryder Cup player of his generation?
Paul McGinley, one of Olazabal's four assistant captains in Chicago and one of the favourites to lead the European team into action at the next Ryder Cup in Gleneagles, puts is all down to Poulter's brain power.
"Ian's great, he just loves the Ryder Cup," says McGinley, who has long been bitten by the bug of team golf. "He's built this image of himself, of what he is, and he plays to it. He's like an actor getting into character -- he puts on a costume and turns into this guy. And this guy he creates is awesome in Ryder Cups.
"That's the personality he adopts and it's great. His match-play record is very strong, there's no doubt about that. He's won both the Accenture WGC and Volvo World Match Play titles ... really, he was born for it."
McGinley's rivals for the Ryder Cup captaincy in 2014 are Darren Clarke, and fellow back-room team members in Chicago, Thomas Bjorn of Denmark and Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez. Scot Paul Lawrie (43) wants to play at Gleneagles and Olazabal is happy to draw a line under his captaincy at Medinah.
"It's not up to me. It's up to other people. I'll just wait and see what happens," said McGinley, who headed yesterday for Scotland and this week's Dunhill Links Champonship, where he resumes his bid to get into the top-60 in the Race to Dubai.