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Saturday, September 29, 2012
Poulter takes page from Bubba's book

By Bob Harig
ESPN.com

MEDINAH, Ill. -- His swing is not of the classic vintage, his overall record not Hall of Fame material. Ian Poulter has made the most of his modest beginnings in the game. In making it to golf's grandest stage, he relishes every moment.

Perhaps that is why he embraced his surroundings Saturday morning at Medinah Country Club, encouraging the well-engaged spectators to cheer and yell while he hit his opening tee shot.

Ian Poulter
Ian Poulter earned victories in his first two matches with teammate Justin Rose at the 2012 Ryder Cup.

This just doesn't happen in golf, but there was Poulter, loving it.

Having seen Bubba Watson do it on the first tee in Friday's afternoon session, Poulter figured, why not? Especially since he and Justin Rose would be playing Watson and Webb Simpson.

"It was quite a moment," Poulter said. "That was pretty special. It's amazing amphitheater to hit that first tee shot anyway. I knew Bubba was going to do it today, so I wanted to do it.

"Why not stand there and enjoy the fun of what it was? My heart rate went from I would say 100 to 180 pretty quickly, but it was a great buzz, for sure."

Say what you want about Poulter, who has been known to be cockier than his abilities would suggest. But when it comes to the Ryder Cup, it is difficult to find anyone with more resolve.

The Englishman who now lives in Orlando, Fla., partnered with Justin Rose for another victory Saturday morning, this time dispatching the American's major champions in Watson and Simpson 1 up in the foursomes competition.

A day earlier, the duo took down Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker in the same format. They have combined for two of Europe's four points, although European captain Jose Maria Olazabal elected not to keep them together Saturday afternoon.

"It was absolutely key," Poulter said. "Jose has put us out No. 1 for a reason, to go out and get a point and put a point on the board. We got up early and then they came straight back at us with two quick holes, and then we rallied really well. It was a bit of a dodgy match at times, but that's foursomes. You've got just to get it done."

Olazabal sat Poulter on Friday afternoon, a decision he perhaps regrets now, given the European deficit and the hole the team finds itself trying to navigate.

Poulter partnered with Rory McIlroy on Saturday afternoon in four-ball match, and Rose joined Francesco Molinari.

On Saturday afternoon, Poulter birdied his final five holes with McIlroy to defeat Woods and Stricker, 1 up. Rose lost his afternoon four-ball match 5 and 4 to Watson and Simpson.

A day earlier, Poulter had made a big putt on the 16th hole, a par saver that kept him and Rose ahead of Woods and Stricker. His reaction was a celebratory stare at Rose.

"That's me being me," Poulter said. "Ryder Cup is like no other [tournaments]; you can't do that in any other situation. It means that much. That really is how much it means. I've seen it over the years with Seve [Ballesteros] and Ollie and [Nick] Faldo and all the guys. You know what? That's why the Ryder Cup is so special, because you can hole that putt at the right time and it does mean that much, so your emotions come out."

Poulter, 36, has long made it clear how much the tournament means to him. An 11-time winner on the European Tour, Poulter is ranked 26th in the world. And with his two victories to this point, he is 11-3 in four Ryder Cup appearances.

"I just love this event more than any other event in the world," he said. "I get very excited to play. I get very proud to put this shirt on and have that crest on my chest. I want to give it my all. I just love it. I was transfixed in '93 watching my first Ryder Cup, and things haven't changed since."