Ian Poulter Hints At Ryder Cup Snub Even If He Qualifies

The Ryder Cup legend has thrown doubt on whether he would opt to play in the biennial competition if given the chance

Ian Poulter takes a shot at the 2022 LIV Golf Team Championship in Miami
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Ian Poulter is one of several LIV Golf players participating in this week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on the DP World Tour.

While there are Ryder Cup points up for grabs, though, the 47-year-old’s participation in September’s tournament is far from certain, given his association with the controversial Saudi-backed circuit.

Poulter’s eligibility for the biennial tournament rides on the outcome of a court hearing set for next month to determine whether LIV Golf players can continue on the DP World Tour. However, the Ryder Cup legend has hinted that even if he qualified, he wouldn’t necessarily play. Speaking to journalists on-site in Abu Dhabi, he said: “I would love to qualify. Whether I play or not would be a different thing.”

When pressed on the issue, Poulter said: “We’ll see. Let’s see if we get to Sunday holding a trophy. And let’s see how everything plays out. Let’s take it week by week. I certainly don’t expect to get one of the six picks. Not in any way, shape or form. Which is also a shame. What does that tell you? What is the story there?”

The Englishman has an enviable Ryder Cup record. As well as only tasting defeat in six of the 22 matches he has played, he is unbeaten in singles matches. He also played a key role in the Miracle of Medinah in 2012, winning all four matches as Team Europe launched a dramatic comeback to win. 

Despite that, captain Luke Donald has hinted LIV Golf stars' Ryder Cup days are over. For now, though, Poulter wants to focus on the present. He said: “Distraction-free is my goal. So I’m focused on playing as good as I can. I have no reason to start talking about ‘what if?’” 

By now, LIV Golf players will be used to the perception that they are being treated differently from other players in DP World Tour events, with Poulter being one of the more outspoken critics. For example, last August, he accused the DP World Tour of withholding footage of his performance in the D+D Real Czech Masters. Still, he appears determined to take a less combative approach to perceived injustices this year as he focuses on his game.

He said: “I’m not in the pro-am tomorrow. I don’t know if they will put me on telly. But that doesn’t bother me anymore. 2022 was full of big distractions. And my full focus for 2023 is to have as little distractions as possible, play good golf and enjoy myself. It’s been a difficult 2022 with everything that is out there in the public domain. And as frustrating as that is for me - when I feel that some of it is really unjust - it has been easy to let things boil over inside. Because the whole story has not quite been told.

“Whether that is my fault, or that of yours [the media], or of theirs, it doesn’t matter. What matters to me more than anything else is that I’m 47, and I just want to play golf and enjoy myself. Too much has been said already, which is a shame. I’d just love to play golf with no distractions and see what happens. At the end of last year, I cut off from social media in golf and in general. I follow only what I personally want to follow. And that means no golf.”

It remains to be seen if that will hold. Indeed, as recently as last week, Poulter took to Twitter fuming at the Ryder Cup account for failing to send fellow LIV Golf player Sergio Garcia birthday wishes. That aside, if Poulter’s added focus sees him regain some of his best form and the upcoming court case goes in favour of LIV Golf players, he could yet offer a selection consideration for Donald - whether he chooses to play or not.

Mike Hall

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 

He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 

Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 

Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.