Ian Poulter has an extraordinary Ryder Cup record, but recently it has been becoming more ordinary. What can Europe expect from him at Whistling Staits?
Europe has had three talismanic players in the Ryder Cup – Seve, Monty, and The Postman, Ian Poulter.
This trio have come by way of their Ryder Cup reputations from markedly different points.
Severiano Ballesteros was the reason why Europe now take on the Americans.
This mesmerising matador who bestrode the golfing globe en route to five Major wins changed the whole concept of the Ryder Cup.
He did so simply through a combination of his golfing genius and by not being born in the British Isles or America.
Colin Montgomerie is the eight-time winner of the European Order of Merit.
He dominated European golf, yet never won a Major.
The Ryder Cup was the stage on which he showed sceptical Americans that that the European Tour was something worth winning, its supreme superstar someone special.
Then there is Ian Poulter.
He has no Majors, no Order of Merits.
He is a much more ordinary golfer. (If ordinary golfers are multi millionaires with a huge collection of Ferraris (opens in new tab) and 17 tour titles.)
The Poulter who strides down the Ryder Cup fairways is a different beast to the one who does so on the fairways of the European and PGA Tours, Seve and Monty seemed different, too, but this was always the same Seve and Monty, just viewed through a different lens.
It is the Ryder Cup that has made Poulter seem an extraordinary golfer.
But then, his whole relationship with the Ryder Cup is extraordinary.
He has performed so well in it, yet rarely has he performed well enough to have actually qualified for it.
Only twice, in fact, and not since 2008.
Of his seven appearances, five have been through wildcards.
In 2012 he won all four of his matches.
He was 36 years of age and his Cup record stood at 16 wins and three losses; his world ranking at 26.
But since 2012 Poulter has won only one tournament.
He has also only won two of his own seven matches in the Ryder Cup in that period.
His world ranking is now 50. At his best, it had been five.
Seve the player took his leave of the Ryder Cup in 1995.
The great golfing conjurer had by then lost the ability to conjure up the points that he once had for his side.
In his final two Ryder Cups, his seven matches had brought more points to America than to his own team.
His final action as a player was to shake Tom Lehman’s hand after a 4&3 defeat in the lead singles match.
Monty plodded and frowned his way through eight Ryder Cups.
In his final appearance, in 2006, aged 43, his contribution was 2pts from four games towards the team’s record-equalling 18½ to 9½ victory.
This may seem harsh, but in the games Monty was involved in, Europe drew 2-2; in the others it won 16½ to 7½.
We do not know for sure that this will be Poulter’s last time out as a player.
But he admits it will his last in the States.
In four years he will be 49 and quite possibly captain.
Will The Postman Ian Poulter deliver at Whistling Straits?
Cold-hearted historical precedent suggests no.
Contributing Writer Golf courses and travel are Roderick’s particular interests and he was contributing editor for the first few years of the Golf Monthly Travel Supplement. He writes travel articles and general features for the magazine, travel supplement and website. He also compiles the magazine's crossword. He is a member of Trevose Golf & Country Club and has played golf in around two dozen countries. Cricket is his other main sporting love. He is the author of five books, four of which are still in print: The Novel Life of PG Wodehouse; The Don: Beyond Boundaries; Wally Hammond: Gentleman & Player and England’s Greatest Post-War All Rounder.