Poults revels in 'major' triumph
Englishman admits Ryder Cup record would be a satisfactory legacy
Last Updated: 01/10/12 4:10pm
Team success in the Ryder Cup and individual glory in major championships are certainly not mutually exclusive, as the likes of Seve Ballesteros, Jose Maria Olazabal, Bernhard Langer, Nick Faldo and Ian Woosnam proved on many occasions.
But if Ian Poulter has to settle for just one of those things in his career, then being known as one of the greatest players in Ryder Cup history, the catalyst for the 'Miracle at Medinah', is just fine by him.
Poulter won all four of his matches in Chicago, improving his overall record to an amazing 12 wins and just three defeats, including the momentum-changing victory with Rory McIlroy in Saturday afternoon's fourball session.
So far, the 36-year-old Englishman has been unable to translate the sort of golf which saw him close out that match with five straight birdies into a major title, but even if his biggest triumphs come in team events rather than individual ones - Colin Montgomerie's name springs to mind - Poulter could not care less.
"These may be my majors and that's fine," Poulter said after Europe came from 10-6 down to equal the largest last-day comeback in the event's history by winning eight of Sunday's 12 singles. "I have more pride and passion in winning the Ryder Cup than winning a major.
"I would love to win one, win them all, don't get me wrong, and I've been close (he was second to Padraig Harrington in the 2008 Open). But if I don't win another golf tournament, Sunday is going to go down as the highlight of my career."
Poulter qualified for his first Ryder Cup in 2004, but played just twice in the record nine-point win at Oakland Hills under Langer, losing in fourballs but beating Chris Riley in the singles.
He was a controversial wild card selection by Nick Faldo in 2008 having declined to play the final qualifying event, but justified Faldo's faith at Valhalla by claiming four points out of five in a losing cause.
After qualifying for the team in 2010, Poulter lost his opening game but won the next three as Montgomerie's team won by a single point at Celtic Manor, but he again needed a wild card from Olazabal to make the side at Medinah.
"We have actually revised the qualification for next time," Lee Westwood joked. "It's nine (qualifying) spots, two picks and Poults. It's the Poults clause."
Olazabal also suggested the Ryder Cup should put up a statue to Poulter, who was told "something that will stay with me forever" by his captain after the amazing comeback was completed on Sunday.
Poulter refused to say what that was, but was willing to try to define what makes him such a feared opponent in matchplay.
"I'm a bad loser. That's why I'm hard to beat and that's why guys dislike me and want to beat me," added Poulter, who has also been on three winning Seve Trophy teams and won the WGC Match Play title (2010) and Volvo World Match Play Championship (2011).
"I wanted to be a footballer but that did not happen so my next best thing was golf. It was a good move to be honest, especially for an Arsenal fan being told I was not good enough after two trials with Spurs. Being told I'm not good enough at anything just motivates me.
"To be part of a team is very special. We created history. You are an individual for the most part. It's only Seve Trophy and Ryder Cup that you get to spend any time with players and be a team. It's very nice to be part of that."
As for the passion he brings to team play with his eye-bulging, fist-pumping celebrations and dealing with a hostile crowd, Poulter added: "I feed off those guys. If they want to be loud and create an atmosphere, let's go play golf. As long as it stays within that line, it's fine.
"There was lots (of heckling), but the only way to silence a crowd is to hit great golf shots.
"That's who I am. I want to be that guy who contributes to a team. I always wanted to be the guy scoring the goals. I like to give it 100 percent or go down in flames.
"It's fairytale stuff. Can anyone believe that actually happened on the golf course? We were dead and buried. We were betting beaten and it was looking like it was going to be humiliating. And we turned it round to be the best Ryder Cup in history."