Paul McGinley won’t let emotional or personal relationships derail his bid to win next year’s Ryder Cup.
The Irish golfer, vice-captain at the 2010 and 2012 events, is set to Captain the European’s next year in Gleneagles and he has laid down the marker to one of last year’s heroes, Ian Poulter.
The English golfer inspired a famous European win when he hit five birdies in a row playing alongside Rory McIlroy to win his fourball match against Jason Duffner and Zach Johnson before beating Webb Simpson in his singles match.
The 37 year old has collected 12 points from 13 matches in three Ryder Cups but has twice needed wildcards to make the team and with Henrik Stenson, with 80% of the points needed to qualify, currently the only player virtually guaranteed a place on the team, Poulter has his work cut out to make the 12.
“Ian Poulter is a special guy and what he did last year was incredible,” McGinley said at an event in Gleneagles marking one year to go until the 40th Ryder Cup.
“It wasn’t a case of making five birdies when everything is with you and you are hearing the roars around the golf course and things are flying. Making five birdies on the Sunday when the momentum is with you is one thing, but what Ian Poulter did in making five birdies in a row on the back of Rory making one on 13 is incredible.
“It really was one of the most incredible achievements I have seen on a golf course. That was a monumental achievement and there is no doubt he personally pulled the team into a position to be just within touching distance. Then when he got into the locker room he said ’For the first time all week we have a pulse’. That was so poignant and right as we were on life support before that.
“I would certainly put that on a par with Liverpool’s achievement in the Champions League final (in 2005), coming back from 3-0 down at half time. For me it is better than that. It was away from home, rather than at a neutral venue.
“Everyone has got this impression of Ian Poulter being a William Wallace, walking around the team room and banging on the heart, shouting and roaring. I can assure you behind the scenes he is a very polished, observant member of the team. He doesn’t make the rip-roaring speeches but you know looking around the team, you can tell the players who are up for it as well as those who are suffering and nervous.
“But I am not saying anybody is in the team. I am talking in the past and I am talking about what he has achieved until now. I can assure you that if Ian Poulter has a very poor year next year he is not going to be in the team.
“But the chances of Ian Poulter having a very poor year are slim and I am hoping that doesn’t happen. I would love to have him in the team but he has to earn his stripes. He has to prove to me he is on his game and mentally and physically ready.”