Poulter breathes life into Ryder Cup

When Ian Poulter was picked for this Ryder Cup - he did not qualify remember - he said he was going to "pour some passion over the holes at Medinah".

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Well, when it came it was a torrent.

Poulter's five closing birdies late on Saturday to give himself and Rory McIlroy a one-up victory over Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner did at least give Europe something to get excited about, even though they still trailed by four points going into Sunday's singles.

"I have never felt anything like it," Poulter told Press Association Sport afterwards.

"It was absolutely unbelievable.

"We've been outplayed - that's dead simple - but it meant so much to the team and we have a slim chance. That team room is absolutely buzzing right now."

The 36-year-old is the eighth lowest-ranked member of the 12-strong side, but once again - almost in the spirit of the late Seve Ballesteros - he has been their heartbeat.

It was Poulter's third win out of three in the match, his sixth victory in a row and his 11th in his last 13 cup games.

No wonder captain Jose Maria Olazabal, who still believes he did the right thing omitting Poulter from the first day fourballs, said: "I think the Ryder Cup should build a statue for him.

"That's why we say that he has such a special character for this event. He thrives, he loves to be in the spotlight, loves to be in that kind of situation.

"There's a story about Poulter. I saw him at Celtic Manor on the Monday when every player was getting ready (to play singles). That look you saw on 18 tonight, he has it at all times.

"I looked straight at him with the intention of saying a few words and said 'OK, you're ready, you can go'. He looked at me and said 'yes - and I can guarantee you a point'.

"That's Poulter at the Ryder Cup."

Olazabal was asked if he was reminded of anybody.

"There's one that is not here with us any more (Ballesteros, of course), but I'm pretty sure that when he looks down on us he must have been proud of what he saw."

Poulter and McIlroy trailed with six to go and it was the world number one's 15-footer for birdie that started them off on a sensational back-nine 29.

"We had to make birdies and wow - five in a row. It was awesome," Poulter added, while McIlroy stated: "At least I had a little bit to do with it. When Poults gets that look in his eyes, especially the week of the Ryder Cup, it's really impressive.

"I could have just walked into the clubhouse. It was the Poults Show and just a joy to watch."

On the atmosphere Poulter said: "It was brutal. We are in Chicago - they had a few drinks and they weren't making it easy for you, I'll be honest.

"I kept saying and Rory kept saying to me that the only thing we can do is make a birdie to try and keep them a little quiet.

"I guess I've had a bullseye on my back for a while. I'm tough to play against in match play, guys want to beat me and that's fine.

"I want to beat them just as bad and I'm not going to roll over. I'm going to go down blazing."

Asked if he ever thought he was going to miss the closing 15-footer in near-darkness, he replied: "No. I've got my team-mates right behind me, I'm not going to miss it for them, am I? Come on."

His putt ended a memorable day that began with him matching Bubba Watson by rousing the crowd to make whatever noise they wanted as each teed off.

"I've done it once in Phoenix," he said.

"It's very daunting to stand there and hit a first tee shot. It's even more daunting when they're screaming and going bananas, but he was going to do it to us, so I done it back to him.

"Your heart rate goes from 80 to 180 - but you can't do it all the time!"

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