Saturday 20 January 2018

Poulter makes Hong Kong dash to remain eligible for Ryder Cup

Phil Casey

IAN POULTER admits he only has himself to blame for requiring a dramatic, last-minute dash across 12 time zones to play in this week's Hong Kong Open.

Poulter dropped out of the world's top 50 on Sunday and was therefore ineligible for his planned appearance in the upcoming WGC-HSBC Champions event in Shanghai, meaning he would be unable to play the 13 events required for European Tour membership.

Only members can qualify for Europe's Ryder Cup team and that meant Poulter was forced into a frantic journey from Orlando to Hong Kong, via New York, but only after former US PGA champion Rich Beem generously agreed to give up his invite to allow Poulter a place in the field.

Poulter (below) set off from Orlando at 9.0am on Tuesday and arrived shortly after 7.0pm on Wednesday in Hong Kong. He is due to start his first round at noon local time today. The 39-year-old was 33rd in the world rankings on August 10 and 46th at the start of last week, when victories by Emiliano Grillo and Andy Sullivan combined with other results to drop him down to 51st.

"To drop that far in the world rankings was not expected," Poulter said. "I knew when the cut-off was and I am very good with the rankings and doing the calculations.

"Obviously this wouldn't have happened if I had played better, but still, dropping the way I did in the last couple of weeks was drastic. It was an incredible drop.

"It's really bizarre. It's put everyone in a bad position and I am just really grateful to everyone for helping me out. It's down to bad play and poor management of my schedule and neither of things are good. I guess that's the risk you run when you have two tour cards and you are trying to play two schedules. We got this one wrong, but I am here to try and play as good as I can."


Poulter hailed Beem's "incredibly generous gesture" in giving up his invite after flying in from Texas, adding: "It's really unfortunate that Rich has basically been asked to give his invite back. I didn't want that. It's unbelievably generous of him to say that's fine. I am so grateful that he has given me the opportunity to get my numbers in."

Poulter - who only received his passport back on Tuesday morning after applying for a Chinese visa for the HSBC event - will rely on a local caddie having already given Terry Mundy the week off, but can draw on the experience of victory at Fanling in 2010, as well as top-five finishes in 2009 and 2011.

Hong Kong Open

Live, Sky Sports 4, 7.0am

Shriners Open

Live, Sky Sports 4, 10.0pm

Irish Independent

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