Ian Poulter has promised to bring “excitement, flair and passion” to the European Ryder Cup team after being handed a controversial wild card place by captain Nick Faldo last night.
Flamboyant Poulter upset many of his fellow contenders by pulling out of this weekend’s Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, opting instead to stay in America and take his chance on a captain’s pick.
But it was a decision which eventually paid off as he and fellow Englishman Paul Casey were given the nod to complete the 12-strong team bound for Valhalla in a fortnight’s time.
Poulter now accepts his decision not to play at Gleneagles may have been the wrong one and has vowed to re-pay the captain’s faith.
“It was such a tough decision to make and it might have been the wrong decision looking back. Maybe I should have gone to play Gleneagles,” the 32-year-old admitted.
“I’m absolutely overwhelmed. It’s awesome. I’ll bring excitement, I’ll bring flair and I’ll bring the passion I always play golf with and I think that will be an asset to the team.”
Faldo looked on as Justin Rose, Soren Hansen and Oliver Wilson all successfully held onto the three remaining automatic places at Gleneagles yesterday, joining the seven players who had already qualified.
But while they were all celebrating, Darren Clarke was left wondering what might have been. Clarke played heroically at the K Club two years ago shortly after the death of his wife Heather and was many people’s favourite for a wild card place this time round after his victory in the Dutch Open last week. Typically, however, the Irishman was sporting in defeat and wished the team well.
“Nick rang me after my last round at Gleneagles to say that I wasn’t going to be one of his picks and I simply wished him all the best,” Clarke said. “Obviously I am disappointed that I wasn’t selected but I have dealt with much worse. I will be supporting them from wherever I am.”
Explaining his decision to opt for Poulter, Faldo said: “Ian is a very determined guy, I love his attitude and what he did at the Open – that back nine he played with the intention to win and had that emotional feeling.”
Bur former captain Bernard Gallacher believes Poulter’s selection may have an unsettling affect. “I think the morale in the team might be a bit lower for picking Poulter ahead of Darren Clarke,” he said.