Saturday 11 September 2021 9:00 am

Ian Poulter interview: Ryder Cup hero on hoping to be part of Team Europe again, going strong at 45 and refusing to let his kids win

Anyone familiar with Ian Poulter’s Ryder Cup heroics won’t be surprised to learn that he doesn’t leave his competitive streak on the golf course.

“We play pool, basketball, darts; everything is a competition in this house,” he tells City A.M. from his Florida home.

“Football in the garden, I won’t let goals in. If it’s there to be saved I will save it. That’s how I was taught as a kid. My dad was quite strong about that too. 

“I think it’s a wonderful thing for your kids to understand what it means to really win. It’s too easy nowadays to be too soft.”

Poulter certainly knows all about winning, particularly against the United States in the Ryder Cup, the competition that has defined his career.

In six appearances for Team Europe the Englishman has been on the winning side five times and did as much as anyone to spark the Miracle at Medinah in 2012.

Over the next few days he hopes to be named in Padraig Harrington’s 12-man party to defend the trophy at Whistling Straits later this month. In fact, he is counting on it.

“I will make sure I’m there,” Poulter said earlier this month. Asked what he will do should he fail to make the team, he says: “There are no plans.” He shoots down follow-up questions by repeating the statement three times.

The world No48 adds: “I’ve always made it known how special the Ryder Cup is to me. It was the big dream from a very early age. 

“Once I went to watch my first one, that was it: I was hooked and sold on trying to make that team. I’ve been lucky enough to play six and now hopefully we’re going to be lucky enough to play seven.

“That team bonding and experience; you really get to see a different side of people in those weeks. Some of my best friendships have been cultivated out of being part of a Ryder Cup team.”

Why Poulter believes he’ll be part of Team Europe at Ryder Cup

Poulter could have ensured his automatic qualification with a high finish at the BMW PGA Championship this weekend but missed the cut yesterday by one stroke.

Instead he will rely on a captain’s pick, but the man dubbed the Postman for his reliability is confident he has delivered on the task set by Harrington when they met over dinner in March.

“We sat down, he spoke about the team, how it was shaping up,” says the 45-year-old. “He made it very apparent that he’d like me to be part of his team. And with that in mind, just go and play some good golf. 

“I think I’ve played some pretty good golf through the summer and am now in a position, coming up to the last event to qualify, and really it would be a bonus if I’m able to do that.”

Poulter has helped Europe win the Ryder Cup on five occasions, most recently in 2018 in France
Poulter has helped Europe win the Ryder Cup on five occasions, most recently in 2018 in France (Getty Images)

A captain’s pick in 2012, when he won all four of his matches, and 2018, when he beat world No1 Dustin Johnson, he is relaxed about taking that route to the Ryder Cup.

“You don’t generally think about it as the week goes on,” he says. “You were picked for a reason. Go and play golf and enjoy the ride.”

How a love of competition has kept Poulter young at heart

Now in his mid-40s, Poulter shows no sign of slowing down. Beyond the Ryder Cup, he plans to play a few events on the PGA Tour before heading to Dubai for the DP World Tour Championship, the grand finale to the European season. 

“It’s a big tournament, big purse, big points,” says Poulter, who started the week 28th in the order of merit.  “It’s an opportunity if you’re high enough in that order of merit to try to win the Race to Dubai. It’s a great course and it sets up well for me.

“I’ve had a pretty solid season so far, been on the leaderboard a lot, had a couple of great finishes and really put myself in position. It’s quite exciting coming into this time of year.”

He remains young at heart, he says, because he gets to do what he loves. And the incentive of facing the United States every other year keeps those competitive fires burning. 

“I might look 45 but I don’t feel it, which is really good,” he says.  “To be in a position today to still be competing at the highest level is lucky. In some respects I’ve worked really hard. 

“The Ryder Cup has definitely been a factor within that. Every two-year cycle you get that extra buzz and that’s been healthy for me. 

“My life is all about competition. It always has been and always will be. Whether it’s business or golf; whatever I do I want to feel I’m kind of relevant and I want to always win. 

“And I think that’s what keeps me young in my mind, young in my heart, and will keep me going for many more years.”

Ian Poulter is a proud global ambassador for DP World, a leading enabler of global trade and long-term European Tour partner committed to helping its customers move goods around the world in ways that are smarter, faster, safer and more cost-efficient. Find out more at https://www.dpworld.com

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