Poulter the passionate heartbeat of Europe's Cup team
MEDINAH, Illinois (Reuters) - Just like Seve Ballesteros and Colin Montgomerie before him, Ian Poulter saves his very best golf for the Ryder Cup where his eye-bulging, fist-pumping passion repeatedly gives Europe a huge boost.
It was Poulter who earned one of two valuable points late in Saturday's fourballs to give his team a spark of momentum in what many viewed as a losing cause at Medinah Country Club with the U.S. heading into the concluding singles 10-6 ahead.
Lifted by that faint glimmer of hope, the Englishman was one of eight players who won on Sunday as Europe completed an astonishing come-from-behind victory that left the American team stunned.
"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," Poulter said after beating U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson two up.
"I just love it. I love the whole fact that I've got 11 great team mates, a fantastic captain and vice-captains, and I love the team atmosphere. It's something very, very special to be a part of."
Poulter, who made his debut in the biennial competition at Oakland Hills in 2004, ended his week at Medinah with a perfect 4-0-0 record. His overall record is 12-3-0, the highest winning percentage by a European who has played in at least three Cups.
Fellow Englishman Lee Westwood jested that Poulter should be inked in now as a selection for the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in Scotland.
"We have actually revised the qualification for next time," Westwood smiled. "It's nine spots, two picks and Poults. The Poults clause."
Poulter embraces the raucous, pressure cooker atmosphere at the Ryder Cup where he is unbeaten in four singles matches.
Tiger Woods, who has twice beaten Poulter in Cup team play, felt the Englishman's passion for the trans-Atlantic showdown event matched that repeatedly shown by Montgomerie, a long-time talisman for the European team.
"I think Monty was probably the same way," Woods said. "Monty had a fantastic career and an even better Ryder Cup career. Poults is about the same. I know that he plays well in this event, and he's tough to beat."
Poulter has competed in four Ryder Cups but the manner of Europe's victory at Medinah on Sunday, when the entire team played in the navy blue colors once favored by Ballesteros, made this year's edition most special.
"It was amazing to see the atmosphere change in that team room," Poulter said of the European locker room on Saturday night as they spoke about the daunting task facing them in the last-day singles.
"The spirit, it just changed. Guys were pumped up... we just felt there was that little glimmer of hope.
"Whether it's this good man right on my left sleeve right now that's going to pull us through this, I don't know," Poulter added, pointing to the silhouette of the late Ballesteros, who died last year aged 54 after a battle with cancer.
"It's pretty special."
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by John O'Brien)