Pros advice

“Magic Man” Ian Poulter gives whole team a boost, believes Sir Nick Faldo

Sir Nick Faldo believes that picking Ian Poulter due to his last three Ryder Cup contests is a wise move, heralding the Englishman as the “Magic Man” for Paul McGinley’s Europe team.

Faldo found himself on the sharp end of fan and professional criticism when he awarded Poulter a captain’s pick in 2008 – but quickly showed those doubters were way off the mark as he won two of his three matches with Rose and a fourballs point alongside Graeme McDowell before beating Steve Stricker in his singles.

Since then Poulter has been seen as the driving force behind Europe over the past two contests, producing a series of memorable performances while also injecting some valuable confidence and belief which was severely lacking in the team dressing room.

Poulter was the man who headed the late display on the second day at Medinah two years ago, making birdies at the last five holes as he partnered Rory McIlroy to achieve a 1up win over Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson.

And it was his outrushing of emotion as the winning putt sank into the hole which seemed to reinvigorate his team mates, who in turn responded with a historic comeback in Sunday’s singles that retained them the trophy against insurmountable odds. It really was the ‘Miracle at Medinah.’

Faldo could see what Poulter was able to bring to the event, which was one of the reasons he picked him alongside Paul Casey and Justin Rose. Together the three players gelled to justify his selection.

However, six years on from that special moment, and Faldo remains gobsmacked at the hugely negative reaction afforded to his decision to take Poulter to Kentucky, insisting he made the obvious – and correct – choice.

“It was amazing, I picked a guy ranked 22nd in the world and who finished second at the Open Championship,” Faldo told Sky Sports. “My two picks won five points and the rest of the team won six and a half.

“It wasn’t that difficult to pick him. He was the world No 22, he was playing alright, and he showed me a lot when he holed a really good putt at the last in the Open to ensure second place.

“I knew he was fiery and feisty and he was best mates with Justin Rose, but it was almost too obvious to put them together.

“I was thinking during the week who I could pair them with, but then I thought: ‘Well that’s daft’. They both played great in practice, so I told them on the Wednesday that they would be playing together, and their eyes lit up.

“That was one of the highlights of my week, a really cool moment. Why was I fighting to find them a partner when they’re best mates and playing great? I stuck them together and off they went.

“And look what he’s done since. Poulter has been the magic man of the last three Ryder Cups.”

So it seems that regardless of form this season, Faldo still believes Ian Poulter can be the difference at the Ryder Cup. Only time will tell if the call to bring Poulter in against the wishes of some will make for another miracle moment in golfing history.