Ian Poulter talks strategy at Shootout
He talks about partner Dustin Johnson.
Ian Poulter talks Ryder Cup at Shootout
His passion during the tournament.
Photo by SCOTT MCINTYRE // Buy this photo
Two and a half months ago, Dustin Johnson and Ian Poulter were on opposite sides as the U.S. and Europe battled in the Ryder Cup.
The emotional Poulter helped spark a rally late Saturday that cut the Americans' lead to four going into the singles. And that spark was roundly credited with spurring the Europeans' comeback.
Even though that's recent history, it is history this week, because the two will be teaming together to try to win the Franklin Templeton Shootout for the second time. The first of three rounds is today at Tiburon Golf Club at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, and will be played with the modified alternate shot format.
"Well, Ryder Cup is different," said Johnson, who won in 2010 with Poulter, but neither could return last year due to scheduling conflicts. "Nobody really likes each other that week. But this is a different week. It's a fun week."
At Medinah, Poulter helped turn what had been a fun week for the Americans into a nightmare. He made five straight birdies in four-ball to what may have seemed like at the time only diminish the eventual U.S. team's victory margin.
"You can call it the zone," Poulter said of the streak. "I don't know what you would want to call it. It was a good five birdies, is what it was."
"I didn't put much stock in it then because we were four ahead," said U.S. captain Davis Love III, who is playing with Brandt Snedeker this week. "It was like 'Well, they got lucky they're not five or six behind.' But I didn't put much stock in it. We went in and sat down, and we knew he was the hot player. We knew we had guys that wanted to play him, and we tried to match that up."
Nothing matched up for the Americans, though, and Europe won an incredible eight of 11 singles matches to retain the Cup. Poulter beat U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson, 2-up.
"We usually fare pretty well in the singles," said Johnson, who defeated Nicolas Colsaerts, 3 and 2. "Just wasn't meant to be. That's all I can say."
Poulter seemed to have that crazed look on his face a lot that last day and a half, especially after playing so well with the crowd many times giving him a hard time.
"Ryder Cup is Ryder Cup," he said of his demeanor. "It's not difficult to get fired up for the Ryder Cup. So yeah, everybody on both sides were fired up. It's that simple. There is no love lost there in Ryder Cup. It's just for a week every two years, thankfully.
"There's a lot of passion for it out on the golf course. Whether you feed from the five, the electricity from the fans, or whether it's just your home crowd or it's your family and friends in the crowd giving you a good pump, it's just Ryder Cup."
Two years ago, Johnson and Poulter were in much the same position — Poulter and the Europeans had pulled out a clutch victory when Graeme McDowell beat Hunter Mahan to stave off an impressive American comeback. Poulter and Johnson both won their respective singles matches.
And they were paired together at the Shootout. They fired a final-round 59 in the scramble to rally for a two-shot victory.
"Our games are very different, but yet they tie in very, very well in this format," Poulter said.
Poulter said he will tee off first, like he did in 2010, and put one out there safely so the long-hitting Johnson can rip one.
"We all know how far he hits it off the tee," Poulter said. "And given a number of these holes and pin locations out here, if he hits one out there 350, I'm probably going in with a sand iron or a lob wedge to most of the long holes. It's a fun position to be in, because my stats inside 100 yards are pretty good, and Dustin finished out pretty well. It's kind of a lethal combination. Hopefully we can jell like we did two years ago, and have some fun on Sunday afternoon."
Poulter certainly isn't going to bring up what happened at Medinah.
"Why does he want to upset me, or me upset him?" Poulter asked. "He's my partner, right? Come on. We want to try and win this thing this week. I'm not going to bring it up. There's no point."
And no, don't expect Poulter to have that Ryder Cup-look on his face this week. Or any other week that's not the Ryder Cup, for that matter.
"You can't do it," he said. "I'm not going to stand on the first hole having my eye bulging out, fist-pumping, going crazy, because they're going to go 'What is this idiot doing?' In Ryder Cup, you're going to do it. You can't do that on the first hole of a 72-hole stroke play even. Doesn't happen, but it happened in Ryder Cup. It just does.
"It's the only event in the world that is ever going to create that drama, that intensity, that pressure. But it's right. It's fitting."