124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

The Loop

Poulter Keeps Showing He Belongs

September 20, 2008

LOUISVILLE--As the phalanx of reporters descended on Ian Poulter behind Valhalla CC's 18th green Saturday evening, the Englishman was his usual droll self.

"Just an ordinary Saturday," he joked when asked for his thoughts moments after winning his second point of the day and keeping Europe within two points of the Americans, 9-7, at the 37th Ryder Cup entering Sunday's singles matches.

Poulter's selection by Nick Faldo as one of two captain's picks had been met with healthy criticism in Europe, placing even more pressure on the 32-year-old than he might already have felt playing in this high-spirited event. Yet Poulter stepped up Friday, winning one point in his two matches, then put together even more impressive performances in his two Saturday matches. With Justin Rose, Poulter easily beat Stewart Cink and Chad Campbell in morning foursomes, 4 and 3. Paired with Graeme McDowell in afternoon four-balls, Poulter made six birdies--including the match clincher on the 18th--to help hold off Jim Furyk and Kenny Perry, 1 up.

"It's been a difficult few weeks," Poulter admitted with respect to the jabs made at him for being selected over Ryder Cup veterans Colin Montgomerie and Darren Clarke. "I needed to come out this week and perform. I didn't think I'd be coming out four times. I've needed to play well this week for myself and the team. I wanted to play well for the team more than anything else in any other tournament."

Most impressive was the up-and-down for birdie Poulter made on the 18th hole late Saturday afternoon to beat Furyk and Perry. After hitting a disappointing second shot short and right of the green on the 547-yard par 5, Poulter hit a 35-yard chip to four feet. Furyk already had made a birdie, meaning that Poulter had to hole his putt to win the match outright. With the calm he had showed all day, he rolled the ball in, then turned to his European teammates behind the green and let out a primal yell.

"If there was ever any doubt why this guy was picked for the team, he erased it," McDowell said. "He showed the world why he's on this team."

--Ryan Herrington