GLENEAGLES Scotland (Reuters) - Ian Poulter has become the leader of the pack for Europe in recent years and says even his own kids are frightened when they see him transform into a fist-pumping, eye-popping Ryder Cup demon.
The proud Englishman now holds the torch once carried so memorably by Ryder Cup greats like Seve Ballesteros and Colin Montgomerie and his 80 percent winning record in the biennial team event is beyond compare.
It was Poulter who breathed new life into the European corpse two years ago, producing a remarkable run of five birdies in a row on Saturday to inspire his team to a one-point victory over the United States after being seemingly dead and buried at 10-4 down.
Asked by a reporter if his four young children found his performances amazing, Poulter laughed: “No, I think they are scared”.
The 38-year-old says he experiences similar feelings when he watches televised flashbacks of his Ryder Cup exploits. “Yes, it’s very scary,” he told a giggling news conference.
“But I‘m showing my emotion like Seve, like Jose Maria Olazabal, like Monty, like Ian Woosnam, like Sam Torrance, like all the guys through the years that have ever played in the Ryder Cup,” said Poulter.
”I‘m showing the emotion because it means so much and, however you want to show that, it just comes out naturally and that’s what you’ve seen through the years.
“How I’ve performed in the last number of Ryder Cups is -- if I really have to sit back and think about it -- I‘m very proud of that. I‘m passionate as a team player and to be mentioned with the likes of Seve and Monty and those players is an absolute honor.”
Earlier this week, United States captain Tom Watson identified Poulter and world number one Rory McIlroy as the main European players his team wanted to stop.
“I guess I take Tom Watson’s comment as a huge compliment,” said the Englishman.
“To me as a player, as someone that has loved the Ryder Cup, and for Tom, who is as accomplished as he is, to pay me that compliment is amazing.”
Poulter’s record away from the Ryder Cup pales by comparison. He has chalked up 12 European Tour wins but is still waiting to register the first major victory of his career.
”My record in the Ryder Cup is exceptional and my strokeplay record isn‘t,“ he lamented. ”Quite clearly I’ve struggled to take what I have in the Ryder Cup and put that out for 103 weeks in-between them.
”But every putt in the Ryder Cup is the equivalent of winning a tournament so ... the emotion that goes through your body is the same as the putt that you experience on a Sunday in a big tournament.
“Potentially you’re holing lots of winning tournament putts throughout a three-day spell and sometimes that all adds up to more wins than you would ever win in your professional lifetime,” added Poulter.
“That’s why players enjoy the Ryder Cup so much and that’s why it’s mentally and physically draining by the end of the week because you go through that emotion so often.”
Poulter, who is almost certain to be picked by captain Paul McGinley for Friday’s four opening fourball matches, said there was no extra heat on him to perform this week because he is regarded as Europe’s talisman.
”I put enough pressure on myself leading in and I work hard to be able to deliver in Ryder Cups,“ he said. ”I don’t think negatively, I think positively that we are going to go out there and deliver.
“I never feel I‘m going to go out there and think, what if something doesn’t happen? It’s more to the point of, let’s go out there and do the job.”
Editing by Pritha Sarkar