- Ryder Cup
Americans target 'Postman' Poulter
The Ryder Cup gets underway at Medinah Country Club on September 28. ESPN will have extensive coverage of the event - including interactive text commentary, reports and reaction - for all three days.
Steve Stricker has singled out Ian Poulter as the man every American wants to beat when Europe mount the defence of the Ryder Cup at Medinah.
Stricker, playing in his third Ryder Cup, would gladly accept points against any member of the European team, but it is Poulter's relish for the competition and extrovert celebrations that make losing to the Englishman in Chicago such an ugly prospect.
"I like to compete and I like to win - doesn't matter who it is," said Stricker, who lost to Poulter twice in Valhalla. "But when it comes down to playing Ian Poulter in the Ryder Cup, I don't want to lose to him.
"When he yells and screams, they [Poulter's eyes] bug out - that's why you want to beat him," Stricker explained. "He's a big-time competitor. You can tell he's working hard to beat you. And when you come across a guy who really wants to beat you, you really want to beat him."
For his part, Poulter knows his exuberant antics in Oakland Hills, Valhalla and Celtic Manor have made him a target and ruffled even Tiger Woods in the past, but they have also fired him to become something of a talisman for the European team.
Nicknamed 'the Postman', a tongue-in-cheek reference to his bold claim that he would "deliver" his point in the singles before taking to the course to beat Matt Kuchar 5&4 two years ago as Europe regained the Ryder Cup, Poulter believes it is this passion that makes the Ryder Cup such a compelling competition.
"The Americans want to kick my a**," Poulter told the Telegraph. "People ask me why the Ryder Cup seems to suit me so much. If you look at my match play record it's pretty good. I have won both versions of the World Matchplay. One of my strengths is my putting and that is big in match play.
"Some people have told me it's because I'm a frustrated footballer and although I don't feel like one, maybe there is something in it as I was told when I was young that I wasn't good enough and had to go looking for something else.
"I was always passionate about playing football - in football you show more emotion in 10 minutes than you do in a whole week of a normal golf tournament. So yeah, maybe that does have something to do with my Ryder Cup fascination. It's the one place a golfer can totally interact with the fans."