Ryder Cup 2018: Talisman Poulter key to European hopes

Ian Poulter boasts a terrific Ryder Cup record and will be expected to shine once more against higher-ranked opponents at Le Golf National.

Ian Poulter with the Ryder Cup following Europe's victory at Medinah in 2012   -  Getty Images

This week's Ryder Cup will feature every member of the world's top 10, the winners of the last eight major championships and, most notably of all, a rejuvenated Tiger Woods.

Yet the highest expectations for any individual are set to fall on the second-lowest-ranked participant in the event.

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In recent years, no player has been more synonymous with this event than Ian Poulter.

While the Englishman has enjoyed success on an individual basis throughout a career that has spanned more than two decades, including 17 professional wins, two World Golf Championships titles and a runner-up finish at the 2008 Open Championship, his most memorable performances have undoubtedly come in the Ryder Cup.

Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say Poulter's display at Medinah six years ago ranks among the greatest in the competition's illustrious history.

On that occasion, with Europe 10-4 down and staring defeat in the face, it was Poulter who sparked the most miraculous recovery - birdieing the final five holes on Saturday afternoon to rescue an unlikely point in the company of Rory McIlroy and ensure the visitors trailed by just four heading into the final day.

A glorious comeback was duly completed in the singles, Poulter again proving his worth as he beat Webb Simpson to take his tally to four points from as many matches.

Of the players teeing it up at Le Golf National, only Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka - who have featured in just two and one Ryder Cups respectively - can claim to have a record equal to or better than that of Europe's talisman.

Poulter has won 12 of his 18 Ryder Cup matches, losing just four, and is undefeated in five singles matches, only failing to win on one occasion.

Crucially, his exuberant and often fiery on-course persona is a perfect fit for a golf competition like no other.

Many great players, Woods and Phil Mickelson included, have struggled to show their best form in the biennial contest between Europe and the USA. Poulter, by contrast, has hit new heights time and time again.

Now 42 and with only one tournament victory in the last six seasons, which came at the Houston Open earlier this year, it appears unlikely Poulter will ever taste major glory.

However, the prospect of taking on more decorated opponents this week will not daunt the world number 34 one bit.

Poulter was absent through injury two years ago when Europe lost their grip on the trophy at Hazeltine.

If they are to regain the Ryder Cup, he will surely be required to play a key role.


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