Poulter ready to answer his critics

By Associated PressSeptember 17, 2008, 4:00 pm
Ryder CupLOUISVILLE, Ky. ' Forget the outrageous wardrobe, the gelled-up hair, the hilarious impersonations. At this Ryder Cup, Ian Poulter will be judged solely on what he does with his clubs.
Hit a bunch of errant shots? That would surely give credence to those who already consider Poulter to be the Lehman Brothers of the European portfolio.
Sink a bunch of clutch putts? Poulter could giddily tell all his critics to go jump in one of those lakes at Valhalla Golf Club.
Certainly, no one is under more scrutiny in bluegrass country than the flamboyant Englishman.
Ian Poulter
Ian Poulter practices Wednesday at Valhalla. (Getty Images)
Ill bring flair, Ill bring excitement, and Ill bring passion, Poulter said Wednesday, hardly backing down from the challenge. Ill do my bit for the team this week. Im really looking forward to it.
Poulter is one of the most unlikely members of either team, chosen by European captain Nick Faldo with one of his two discretionary picks.
The media on the other side of the Atlantic tore into Faldo, claiming the captain passed over the most deserving Darren Clarke because of his friendship with Poulter. Even the American captain, Paul Azinger, was stunned that Clarke was left off the team.
The fact that Poulter skipped his final chance to qualify automatically, choosing to play in a big-money FedExCup tournament in Boston rather than a European Tour event in Scotland, only fueled speculation that Faldo had guaranteed his buddy a spot on the team no matter where he played.
Colin Montgomerie, a longtime stalwart of the European team who didnt get selected this year, either, sarcastically asked if Poulter had a hot line to the captain that no one else possessed. Poulter lashed back, swearing that he didnt know he was on the team until Faldo called him just before the official announcement.
I was gobsmacked, to be honest, Poulter said. That was a difficult week. I didnt know which way the phone call was going to go and I was waiting in anticipation all morning until I got it. Yeah, I was very, very, relieved.
Now that hes here, Poulter does seem more at ease, though he sure looked out of place wearing the earth-toned outfit the Europeans picked out for Wednesdays practice round.
As he walked away from the 12th tee, someone more accustomed to seeing Poulter wearing flashier colors yelled out, Hey, Ian, wish you were wearing pink today?
I am wearing pink, Poulter replied with the timing of a standup comedian. You just cant see it.
That brought out plenty of laughter from the gallery.
But Poulters record is a more serious matter.
Other than a runner-up finish in the British Open ' his best showing in a major ' this has been a largely forgettable year. Splitting time between the PGA and Europeans tours, he hasnt finished higher than ninth in any other event. He didnt even make the cut in his last two tournaments.
As for Ryder Cup experience, thats largely nil as well. Poulters only other appearance was at Oakland Hills in 2004, where he split his two matches and spent most of the time cheering on the Europeans to their most dominating win on American soil.
So whats he doing on the team this time around? Why not Clarke, who was on the last five Ryder Cup teams and had won twice in the past four months on the European Tour?
Faldo was clearly impressed by Poulters showing in the pressure cooker of Royal Birkdale, where he actually pulled into a tie for the final-round lead before Padraig Harrington pulled away with brilliant shots down the stretch.
How I played, certainly in the Open, was a big factor, Poulter said. To play like I did, as well as I did down the back nine, that must have been a factor in him making the decision.
Poulter also takes issue with those who question his overall record, saying hes actually had a very, very solid year.
Its kind of been one of those ones where I havent finished a lot off, he said. I kind of got into a nice mind-set in the Open. I was very, very focused, and I was able to ride that focus and keep it going for four rounds. Its something I havent done for all four rounds this year. It was nice to do it.
One of Poulters teammates, Justin Rose, believes Poulter will feed off the criticism.
Ians the kind of guy that can take care of himself, said Rose, who could find himself paired with his fellow Englishman when play starts on Friday. When hes got a point to prove, he normally goes out there and does it.
Poulter said hes had a chance to talk with Clarke and smooth over any hard feelings.
He was very supportive, Poulter said. Hes obviously very disappointed with not making the side. But Darren said, You know, Im very pleased that youve made the side and youre a very worthy player of making that side. Thats the type of guy Darren is. Hes obviously taken it personally. Hes very disappointed. But on the other hand, hes pleased for me.
Poulter said theres no lingering bitterness in the locker room, either.
Maybe hell even get a chance to break out his apparently dead-on impersonation of a character from the old British sitcom Only Fools and Horses, the one that prompted Faldo to quip in the call to let him know he was on the team, Raquel, go and put your overcoat on, its time to go to the Ryder Cup.
The guys have been great, Poulter said. Everybody on the team is united.
At the 11th hole Wednesday, he stood over a 20-foot putt just as Faldo pulled up in a cart to check out the group.
Poulter rolled it right in the center of the cup.
Now, hes just got to do it when it counts.
Related Links:
  • U.S. Report Cards
  • European Report Cards
  • U.S. Ryder Cup Team and Records
  • European Ryder Cup Team and Records
  • Full Coverage - 37th Ryder Cup
  • Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

    He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

    Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

    Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

    In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

    Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

    Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

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    Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

    By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

    The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

    They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

    Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

    Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

    Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

    ''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

    The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

    In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

    Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

    Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

    By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

    Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

    Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

    Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

    Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

    It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

    The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.