Ryder Cup veteran Ian Poulter said he is prepared to shut out the “hatred” expected from some USA fans as he bids to maintain his impressive record in the biennial event this week.
The 42-year-old Englishman — known as the ‘Postman’ — is licking his lips at re-engaging in the often fraught battle having missed playing in the 2016 edition due to lack of form, although he was a vice-captain as the USA beat Europe in the United States.
Poulter — a wildcard pick by captain Thomas Bjorn — knows how excitable and partisan the fans can get but has shrugged that aside and goes into this year’s renewal at Le Golf National with a sensational record of 12 wins — including all five of his singles — and just four defeats in 18 matches.
“I know the hatred is coming,” he told The Times.
“It’s weird, though. In strokeplay it really annoys you, but for some reason at the Ryder Cup it doesn’t.
“You know there will be nasty things said so you are prepared.
“It’s fuel to the fire. It’s bizarre how the dynamic changes with the Ryder Cup.”
When it comes to the Ryder Cup, Poulter will forever be remembered for his starring role in the ‘Miracle of Medinah‘ in 2012.
On the penultimate day, he made five birdies in his fourball match to re-inject belief into the European team and lay the foundations for a remarkable comeback on the final day.
Despite the “hatred”, he conceded the vast majority of Americans golf fans treat the players with respect.
“You know 99 per cent of American fans respect good golf, respect fighters, respect personalities and passion,” he said.
“But a few have a couple of beers and get some Dutch courage.
“Certain venues are louder than others. New York is a busy one -— interesting individuals who was verbally abused at every hole of this year’s US Open in New York State.”
Poulter, who has risen from earning just £120 ($157) a week working in a golf club shop to prize money earnings of over $40million, is hoping any underlying friction between the two sets of players can be set aside so they can have a drink together once the final shot has been struck.
“We haven’t always been welcome in their team-room which is strange,” said Poulter, who was once called ‘a dick’ by Tiger Woods for trying to hitch a ride aboard his private jet.
“There have been times where we’ve been warned not to go.
“I’m sure it can be painful but it’s a shame when there’s no socialising.
“Sometimes a few get a little too drunk.”
Despite playing regularly on the US Tour alongside fellow Europeans, Poulter admits that, culturally, they are oceans apart from their American counterparts.
“We’re different cultures and our humour is different,” he said.
“When you have extreme emotion mixed in with a few drinks some people react differently.”
© Agence France-Presse (Additional Edits By Oisin McQueirns)