• Olympic Games

Poulter calls on Olympics to embrace matchplay

ESPN staff
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Ian Poulter was victorious at Finca Cortesin © Getty Images
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Ian Poulter has called for the golf tournament at the 2016 Olympics to be a matchplay contest.

Poulter is considered one of the finest matchplay exponents in the world, as he prepares to kick off his defence of the Volvo World Matchplay at Finca Cortesin on Thursday. He also won the WGC-Accenture Match Play back in 2010, while he is unbeaten in singles in three appearances at the Ryder Cup.

Golf is set to be included at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro for the first time in the modern era, and Poulter believes the head-to-head drama provided by matchplay would be the best format for the event and the one most in keeping with Olympic principals.

"Most other sports are one-on-one," Poulter told the Telegraph. "And that's why I think viewers enjoy matchplay more. It's more exciting and plays out better on TV. I think matchplay would suit the Olympics better."

He added: "The more we play [matchplay], the better. I love the cutthroat, face-to-face nature of it and find the buzz a refreshing change from what we play week in and week out."

Poulter faces Australian John Senden and rising Englishman Tom Lewis in the group stage of this week's event, with the quality of the field noticeably down on years past. Poulter can understand why some high-profile players - including Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood - have opted not to play in the event, but believes it gives him a great chance to pick up valuable points towards Ryder Cup qualification.

"I can understand why some of the guys aren't playing, what with [The Players at] Sawgrass last week and [BMW PGA Championship at] Wentworth next week," he noted. "But in terms of how many points it would put on the board for the Ryder Cup, the purses are similarish."

Poulter's close friend Justin Rose, also in the field this week, believes it is putting that has turned the former Open Championship runner-up into such a formidable opponent in this form of the game.

"He has shown there's a knack to matchplay," said Rose. "I think it's because Ian's such a great clutch-putter. In strokeplay that only seems to matter on the back nine on a Sunday. But in matchplay, when every hole can be a victory, there can be a clutch-putt every hole.

"Eye-to-eye, Poults hates to lose."

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