Ian Poulter is relishing the prospect of defying the odds at this year's Ryder Cup
Europe’s modern-day Ryder Cup talisman Ian Poulter has admitted the away side face a monumental task in trying to beat Team USA in their own backyard.
Only six times since 1979 when the game’s most anticipated event became what it is today have the visitors spoiled the party for the hosts, and with home advantage proving particularly pivotal of late, the ‘Postman’ is relishing the prospect of going in as underdogs.
“It’s a great buzz,” Poulter said. “You only have to look around and all the grandstands are red.
“Everything that you look at, the fans, 98 per cent are obviously going to be US fans this week. It’s difficult from start to finish. It’s hard. It’s not easy to play away from home.
“As much as we feel comfortable as a team, to know we’re underdogs, to know that we have to play extra special this week to get the job done; it feels pretty rewarding at the end of the week if we can get it done.
“Course set-up is obviously this week heavily weighed in the US as opposed to how we set things up back in Europe, so I guess everything is stacked against us.
“When you have that, when you can go in as underdogs, when you can turn the tide and actually come out victorious, it means a little bit more.”
If there is one man equipped to defy the odds it’s the 45-year-old, who is well aware of his Ryder Cup reputation ahead of the coronavirus-delayed team extravaganza.
“I’m sure I’ve annoyed plenty,” the Englishman added in reference to his past performances.
“I mean, my percentage has been really nice, for me, and not for the guys I’ve played against, so I’m sure that’s been pretty frustrating to be on the receiving end of that.
“It feels nice. I enjoy holing putts and winning matches. It’s been a great ride. I’m never going to apologise for it. It’s how match play should be played.”
The links-style Whistling Straits is set to play long when the action gets underway, something many believe will favour the Americans, who boast the likes of Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka in their line-up.
But that isn’t a view necessarily shared by Tommy Fleetwood, who anticipates the wind, rather than length off the tee, will have a bigger role to play.
“Well, I think for the majority of time and as a simple rule of life, if you’re going to hit it 350 and straight, it’s going to suit you most courses,” the Englishman stated.
“Bryson has got an advantage for how far he hits it and for how relatively straight he hits it [but] I got a sense when I was playing it yesterday I didn’t think it made that much difference.
“There were a few holes where it actually probably didn’t feel like it was that much of an advantage. At the end of the day you’ve still got to play.
“They have 11 other players as well, so all of those have still got to play the same golf course, the same as us.
“On any given day, everybody has to play and you have to play well. I think the wind is going to have a massive effect. We played it yesterday, and apparently we’ll have a stiffer wind on Friday.
“No matter how the course is set up for whoever, you still have to go out and play golf, and you know that’s just what we’ll all keep in mind.”
Fleetwood’s fellow European and one of three rookies in Padraig Harrington’s side Shane Lowry also hinted at a potential advantage for the visitors, with the early conditions making him feel right at home.
“I’m pretty happy with the conditions here to be honest,” Lowry said.
“I’m pretty happy with the golf course and that cold wind. It feels very much like a summer’s day in Ireland when you’re out there.
“It’s quite difficult to play in these conditions because you need to get your head around hitting a 6-iron 150 yards as opposed to normally most guys hit their 6-iron over 200 yards.
“It’s just little things like I feel might help me this week are conditions and stuff like that.
“How do you cope with it? Sometimes it [playing in the wind] is hard to practice. You just kind of need to know how to do it, and I feel like I know how to do it.
“Very excited to get out there and compete and hopefully win some points.”