Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

Ian Poulter: All my life I've been told I'd never be anything...

Ian Poulter
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 30: Rory McIlroy celebrates after Europe defeated the USA 14.5 to 13.5 to retain the Ryder Cup during the Singles Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 30, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
ROSEMONT, IL - SEPTEMBER 26: Justin Rose of Europe and his wife Kate Rose attend the 39th Ryder Cup Gala at Akoo Theatre at Rosemont on September 26, 2012 in Rosemont, Illinois. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

The tributes poured in for Ian Poulter. The one that meant the most to him shall forever remain secret. It was delivered by his Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal in an emotional embrace by the 18th green.

Olazabal had suggested a statue be erected in tribute to Poulter at the home of the European Tour after yet another eye-popping contribution late on Saturday afternoon, which made Sunday's incredible turnaround possible.

Then Poulter delivered a fourth point on the final day, the highest individual contribution on either side, to reinforce a legend that grows ever greater in the Ryder Cup setting. His face dominated newspaper coverage in America yesterday, further recognition of his defining presence in the European team. He is Europe.

In the euphoria of victory he said he would not trade this success at Medinah for any number of majors. "This is special. You don't get to experience this kind of elation or emotion in regular golf. I love it. It brings out the best in me. Would I want to win a major? Of course I would. Would I swap this win in the Ryder Cup, coming back like we did? No way. This is as good as it gets."

The sense of camaraderie built through shared endeavour clearly touched him but one moment carried significantly greater meaning. "I take away so many special memories from this. But what Jose Maria said to me at the end will stay with me forever. That meant everything to me.

"I can't share it with you, sorry. That remains between us. He is a special person and a great captain. You know what, my captain picked me to come and play. I owe it to him, and Seve [Ballesteros], to be here today."

Poulter accounted for the enraged engagement he brings to the contest in terms of a career-long defiance to prove people wrong, including the scouting staff at Tottenham Hotspur, where he passed through two trials as a schoolboy centre-back without making the grade.

"All my life I've been told I'd never amount to anything. That was always the message from my teachers at school. I wanted to be a footballer, but that didn't work out either. As an Arsenal fan I guess that's a good thing. But, yeah, I just love proving people wrong. It gives me the motivation to succeed."

Of all the voices frothing over Poulter's contribution vice-captain Paul McGinley put it best. "We won that Ryder Cup from [the effort by] Ian Poulter. We were hanging on by our fingernails and Poulter just kept us in touch. It was quite incredible. He's great. He just loves it. 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. He never misses putts and does it when it counts. That's the personality he adopts and it's great."

Mr Europe: Poulter's record


Foursomes 5 4 1 0

Fourballs 6 4 2 0

Singles 4 4 0 0

Total 15 12 3 0

Has been on the winning side in three of his four Ryder Cups

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