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Take a bow, Ian Poulter

Europe's golden boy Ian on mission to keep proving people wrong

By Kevin Garside

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.

And then Poulter delivered a fourth point on the final day, the highest individual contribution on either side, to re-inforce a legend that grows ever greater in the Ryder Cup setting.

In the euphoria of victory he said he would not trade this success at Medinah for any number of majors.

“This is special,” he said. “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,” added Poulter. “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, 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,” said Poulter. “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 McGinlay put it best.

“We won that Ryder Cup from (the effort by) Ian Poulter,” he said. “We were hanging on by our finger nails 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.”

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% 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.”

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