Ian Poulter an inspiration to his Euro teammates
English firebrand in irresistible form as he wins fourballs and then singles to spark Euro revival
Firebrand Ian Poulter was the toast of Europe as he inspired his team's stunning comeback at Medinah.
A self-styled Ryder Cup fanatic, the 36-year-old Englishman trounced US Open champion Webb Simpson 2 up in the second of 12 closing singles to help give his side crucial momentum as they battled to reel in a 10-6 overnight US lead.
Jose Maria Olazabal's men eventually edged home 141/2 to 131/2 and Poulter finished the event unbeaten at 4-0, bringing his overall Ryder Cup record to a stunning 12 wins, against just three losses and no halves in four appearances.
Perhaps even more crucial to the outcome at Medinah Country Club was Poulter's astounding finish to Saturday afternoon's fourballs session when, playing with Rory McIlory, he closed with five straight birdies to defeat the previously unbeaten Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson at the 18th hole.
His goggle-eyed, fist-pumping victory celebration after sinking the winning putt gave new hope to the flagging Europeans, turning what would have been mission impossible at 11-5 down into an unlikely but not impossible 10-6.
The Poulter effect worked its way right through the 12-man team and it was there at the end as Martin Kaymer brought home the crucial point in his 1 up win over Steve Stricker in the penultimate match.
"I got inspired, to be honest with you, by Poulter yesterday [in the fourballs]," he said.
Poulter did not even make the team through the automatic points table, but instead had to depend on a wild-card entry pass from Olazabal. But he was no stranger to that situation having also been a wild card at Valhalla, Kentucky four years ago when Nick Faldo selected him.
On that occasion, he finished up top points scorer on either side with four wins and just the one loss, although it was in a losing cause for Europe.
Two years later he won three and lost one at Celtic Manor, Wales as Europe regained the cup, crucially defeating Matt Kuchar 5 and 4 in the singles.
What was it about the Ryder Cup that so inspired him?
Poulter, ranked 25th in the world, is at pains to explain his relationship with the event.
"I don't know. It's a passion I have; it's a passion I've seen at the Ryder Cup for years and years as a kid growing up, and it's something that comes from within. I don't know. I just love it," he said.
"I love the whole fact that I've got 11 great teammates, a fantastic captain and vice-captains, and I love the team atmosphere.
"It's something very, very special to be a part of, and you grow a lot closer to 11, 12, 13, 14 other people, and it's very, very special moments that you get at a Ryder Cup."