KOHLER, Wisconsin: Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey, Tyrrell Hatton, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Tommy Fleetwood of England and team Europe pose for a photo during the Team Europe Gala Dinner prior to the 43rd Ryder Cup at The American Club on Wednesday. – AFP

KOHLER: England’s Ian Poulter, dubbed “The Postman” for his consistent ability to deliver for Europe, says there’s no secret to his Ryder Cup success. “I hate losing,” the English veteran said when asked why the biennial match play showdown with the United States brings out his best golf.

“You see the guy when you play match play, you know what you have to do when you tee up on the first hole. You can control a match. You can dictate a match. You can play certain shots to try and put your opponent under pressure. You can’t do that in stroke play really unless it comes down to the back nine and the group you’re in you’re actually clear of the rest of the field.

“It’s just a fun game of chess, to be honest, to enjoy what that means, that you’re under pressure right from the get-go. It just doesn’t happen in stroke play. It’s kind of like you plod your way into the tournament, but it’s back nine Sunday mentality every single time you tee it up.”

Poulter has been a key contributor to Europe’s recent dominance. They have won four of the past five editions and Poulter, who made his debut in 2004, has played on five winning sides in six appearances. He says it will take a special effort for Europe to retain the Cup they won in France three years ago against a US side featuring eight of the world’s top 10 players and no one ranked lower than 21st.

“It’s not easy to play away from home,” Poulter said. “As much as we feel comfortable as a team, to know we’re underdogs, to know that, we have to play extra special this week to get the job done.” Poulter sparked Europe’s “Miracle at Medinah” victory in 2012, making birdie at five straight holes to secure a point in the penultimate session as Europe rallied to win. He won two and lost two of four matches at Le Golf National in 2018, but maintained his unbeaten record in singles with a victory over then top-ranked Dustin Johnson.

Lightning rod
It was no surprise when Padraig Harrington made him a captain’s pick for the fifth time. Harrington said Poulter’s ability to perform under pressure isn’t the only thing that makes him a valuable asset. “You have players who you want to just focus on playing golf,” Harrington said. “They’re just golfers. They want to concentrate. They want to know what they’re doing just like a regular week, and you have other players who want a bit of a hyped up week, and Ian is one who can take that pressure and can deal with it.

“He can take it, handle it, and can be a lightning rod to inspire the team, and also maybe to give the other guys a quiet or an easy run.” Poulter’s opponents certainly can’t expect anything to be easy, and the Englishman has no plans to make it so. “I’m sure I’ve annoyed plenty,” he said. “I mean, my percentage has been really nice, for me, and not for the guys I’ve played against, so I’m sure that’s been pretty frustrating to be on the receiving end of that. It feels nice. I enjoy holing putts and winning matches. It’s been a great ride. I’m never going to apologize for it. It’s how match play should be played.” – AFP