(Reuters) - Ian Poulter has been the heartbeat of Europe’s team in the last three Ryder Cups and said on Tuesday he would not swap his memories from the biennial event for a maiden victory in a major championship.
Captain Jose Maria Olazabal compared the 36-year-old Englishman to the late, great Seve Ballesteros after Europe produced a remarkable fightback from 10-6 down to beat the United States 14-1/2 to 13-1/2 in Chicago on Sunday.
“I haven’t won a major and everyone keeps telling me I haven’t won a major,” Poulter told the American television channel CNBC.
“But for me the Ryder Cup has been my major and I wouldn’t trade my memories or my time in the Ryder Cup. That trophy has meant so much to so many people over the years.”
Poulter, repeatedly displaying an eye-bulging, fist-pumping passion, has won 11 out of 13 points in the last three editions of the biennial team event and Olazabal showered praise on his Ryder Cup lionheart.
“For whatever reason this event for him means so much, he thrives on it and I think it brings the best out of him,” said the Spaniard.
“In a way he reminds me a bit of Seve in that regard - that intensity, that focus, that will to win is very close to Seve.”
Poulter, partnering world number one Rory McIlroy, birdied the last five holes of Saturday afternoon’s fourballs match against Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson to earn a priceless point for Europe and keep alive their hopes of retaining the trophy.
On Sunday, the blond Englishman followed up by beating U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson by two holes in the singles after conjuring a breathtaking birdie from the trees at the 18th hole.
”Sunday was very special,“ said world number 26 Poulter. ”We had to silence the fans.
”We were getting it from them pretty hard... but that’s Chicago sports fans, they’re passionate about their teams.
“What our comeback on Sunday did for the game of golf globally was very special.”
Writing by Tony Jimenez in London; editing by Ken Ferris