Sport

Monday 18 December 2017

Poulter: Team strategy paid off

Ian Poulter, centre, praised Europe's team spirit at Gleneagles
Ian Poulter, centre, praised Europe's team spirit at Gleneagles

Ian Poulter has revealed how the European team kept their egos in check in pursuit of team glory in the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.

Poulter has been a talismanic figure in the biennial contest, earning the nicknames of 'Mr Ryder Cup' and the 'Postman' because he always delivers a point for the side.

The 38-year-old was given a wild card by European captain Paul McGinley and expected to feature prominently once more after winning 11 of his previous 12 matches, but played just twice before the singles.

"There are no egos that week, it's about holding that Ryder Cup trophy," Poulter told Press Association Sport. "Everybody in this team would have wanted to play five times.

"You're a player, you want to be on the golf course, you don't want to be rested, but we knew what we had to do and we knew we had a strong enough team to be able to win that trophy.

"It's about winning the Ryder Cup, it isn't about personal records.

"Yes everybody wants to play, but the master plan was to play everybody on the first day, keep as many people fresh as possible, only fatigue a couple of players but those players could take it and therefore we would come out victors at the end of the week."

Poulter had won an incredible 80 per cent of his Ryder Cup matches before Gleneagles, but two halves and one defeat mean that has dropped to 72.22 per cent, with Justin Rose now at 71.42 per cent after three wins and two halves.

Rose and world number one Rory McIlroy were the only players on the European team to play all five sessions - Jimmy Walker and Rickie Fowler doing so for the United States - and Poulter believes being able to call on rested players was crucial to the outcome.

"That w as one of Paul's ideas, make sure only a couple of guys are going to go five times," Poulter added. "That was absolutely critical that he kept guys chomping at the bit to get going."

Poulter suffered his heaviest ever Ryder Cup defeat with a 5&4 loss alongside Stephen Gallacher in the opening fourballs, but almost found it equally painful to be listening to former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson address the team as news came through of Arsenal's Capital One Cup loss at home to Southampton.

"He had a little pop at me," Poulter added. "He took great enjoyment out of Arsenal losing as he was standing there in front of us.

"I was watching the results come through as he was talking and I said to him 'You know Arsenal lost?' and he looked at me and started laughing. I'm not going to get any sympathy as an Arsenal fan from Alex Ferguson.

"He was great to listen to. He has managed to win some obscene number of trophies, you have to respect people in that situation.

"If he isn't the best manager he's one of the top three ever. You have to respect that, being an Arsenal fan doesn't matter. We're European, this is the Ryder Cup week, Alex Ferguson is speaking, you sit there and listen. Fair play to Paul for bringing him in.

"It hasn't been a good 2014 for me and I'm the first one to say that. I've had my niggles but I have a big heart. I wanted to play in this Ryder Cup. It didn't work out with Stevie on the first day, we couldn't get it going and it was a real shame.

"I made a contribution on Saturday morning which was key, chipping in at the right time (on the 15th hole of a fourball match against Fowler and Walker) when it looked like they were going two up with three to play.

"I didn't have my best but there was still that little bit of sparkle in there and enough to somehow make sure I made a contribution."

The discussion over who will follow in McGinley's footsteps has already begun, with Lee Westwood unsurprisingly adding his voice to those backing Darren Clarke to be captain at Hazeltine in 2016.

World number one Rory McIlroy has already backed Clarke and the former Open champion's friend and long-time stablemate Westwood agrees.

"It's about the right time in Darren's career to take up the captaincy," Westwood said on Sky Sports News. "He is very popular in the United States and I think he would make a good captain."

Press Association

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport