‘Being Ryder Cup captain would be a fairytale dream’: Ian Poulter reveals his dream to skipper Europe in 2025, why he loves the team room ‘pranks and comedy’, but won’t talk about Bryson vs Brooks!
- BMW PGA Championship is the last chance for European Ryder Cup qualification
- Ian Poulter will play his seventh Ryder Cup if Padraig Harrington selects him
- Europeans face a US travel ban so very few are likely to attend the Ryder Cup
- Poulter believes Europe are underdogs but ‘have what it takes’ to win
- The World No 48 claims the USA’s feuding team-mates are ‘not his issue’
You can’t interview Ian Poulter at this stage of his Ryder Cup career without asking him whether or not he wants to be captain.
And the answer is a resounding yes.
‘If I’m in the position that I’m asked in 2025, obviously I would be thrilled and honoured to be in that position,’ he exclusively told Sportsmail.
‘But until that time comes where my phone rings and I’m asked, it’s a fairytale dream.
‘I can only say how amazing it truly would be. It would be an honour to have served Europe as a player and be asked to be captain.’
Ian Poulter has been a loyal servant for Team Europe and would be honoured to be captain – the Ryder Cup veteran describes the prospect of captaining Europe as a ‘fairytale dream’
The Englishman has an unbridled passion for the Ryder Cup which he shares with Euro fans
But first, there is the small matter of playing in at least one more and the possibility of a vice captaincy in 2023.
Europe’s men head into battle at Whistling Straits on September 24 and will be hoping to replicate a box-office performance from Catriona Matthew’s Solheim Cup team to retain the trophy they recaptured in 2018.
Poulter is the embodiment of the Ryder Cup so it would come as no shock to see him on the first tee for his seventh appearance.
Catriona Matthew’s Team Europe earned a historic 15-13 Solheim Cup victory on US soil
The World No 48 was a member of the 2018 team that recaptured the Ryder Cup in Paris
The Englishman currently hangs just outside of the qualifying picks so is relying on a wildcard pick from captain Padraig Harrington to guarantee him a ticket to Wisconsin.
Ian Poulter’s amazing Ryder Cup Record
2004 – Won 1- Lost 1 – Halved 0
2008 – 4-1-0
2010 – 3-1-0
2012 – 4-0-0
2014 – 0-1-2
2018 – 2-2-0
Overall – 14 – 6 – 2
Singles – 5 – 0 – 2
Foursomes – 5 – 2 – 0
Fourballs – 4 – 4 – 0
Earlier this week, the Irishman revealed Poulter and fellow veteran Sergio Garcia were pretty much locked and loaded in two of his three available picks – barring any last-minute drama this week, when the European Tour hosts its flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
Harrington announced the duo were in ‘pole position’ as he revealed there were six players under consideration for the three spots.
Poulter believes he’s done more than enough to merit a wildcard pick from the captain.
‘I have played extremely consistently and I’m only just out of the team on points itself,’ he said.
‘A couple of guys are potentially in front of me and knowing that Harrington has three picks, I feel relatively confident that I’m close enough to the team to merit a pick. But it’s on Paddy.’
But even with the nod from Harrington seemingly in the bag, the world No 48 could still play his way into an automatic qualifying spot.
There hasn’t been a Ryder Cup qualifying race as tight as this one. A potential last-minute showstopper could be on the cards at Wentworth to shake up qualifying just before the deadline.
With Euro stars such as Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia forgoing the BMW PGA Championship – against Harrington’s advice – players such as Bernd Wiesberger, Victor Perez, Robert MacIntyre, Justin Rose and Danny Willett could snatch a last-minute ticket to Wisconsin.
A winning performance this week would be enough to boost Poulter into an automatic qualifying spot on Sunday.
Poulter is focused on earning his ticket to Whistling Straits at Wentworth this weekend
‘I never go into a tournament saying to myself I’m going to accept anything less than winning. I’ve always been that way. And that is that is my mindset,’ he said.
‘If I start a tournament, whether I’m in great form or poor form, I mentally tell myself I’m here to win.
‘I’m in a position where I feel like I’ve been playing some great golf to go into the week and try to lock up my spot automatically.’
The 45-year-old has had a turbulent relationship with the Surrey course throughout his playing career but his luck changed last year when he finished fifth, bettering his previous best finish of joint 10th.
‘My record at Wentworth is a love-hate relationship. I’ve done okay, I’ve also missed quite a few cuts. But over the last five years I’ve started to come round to Wentworth.
‘I’m looking to put myself right up on that leaderboard and see if I can finally win one.’
Poulter has rightfully earned the title of the Postman – he always delivers – for his Ryder Cup theatrics. He has featured in five winning European teams during six appearances, becoming a talisman for Team Europe.
Europe captain Padraig Harrington names his team after the BMW PGA Championship
‘The Postman’ Poulter wears a postbox costume following Europe’s 2018 victory in Paris
His passion for the Ryder Cup shines through in his epic displays and the Englishman is hoping he can take that unbridled enthusiasm to his seventh appearance.
‘It would mean a lot. The team environment at the Ryder Cup and the special bond you get has always meant a lot to me,’ he said.
Past Ryder Cup results
2018 – Europe 17 1/2 – 10 1/2 USA
2016 – USA 17 – 11 Europe
2014 – Europe 16 1/2 – 11 1/2 USA
2012 – USA 13 1/2 – 14 1/2 Europe
2010 – Europe 14 1/2 – 13 1/2 USA
2008 – USA 16 1/2 – 11 1/2 Europe
2006 – Europe 18 1/2 – 9 1/2 USA
2004 – USA 9 1/2 – 18 1/2 Europe
2002 – Europe 15 1/2 – 12 1/2 USA
1999 – USA 14 1/2 – 13 1/2 Europe
‘If I’m able to play my seventh… I’m getting old, is what that really means more than anything else,’ he jokingly added.
‘I would be a senior member of that team, someone that’s got some experience.
‘And if I’m able to do that and reassure a couple of rookies, then I’ll be able to go out there and give Paddy my full support.’
As it stands the nine automatic qualifying spots are held by Jon Rahm, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton and Rory McIlroy via the European Points list, and Viktor Hovland, Paul Casey, Matt Fitzpatrick, Lee Westwood and Shane Lowry through the World Points list
Although Harrington’s team could look different come next Monday, Poulter believes Team Europe is already shaping up into a side that ‘has what it takes’.
‘On paper, for many of the Ryder Cups that I’ve played, we go in as underdogs because the Team USA’s world rankings as a whole are less than Team Europe’s.
‘But as we know “on paper” doesn’t always work out that way. I feel confident that we have a strong team and I believe Team Europe has what it takes.
‘If you look at the team today, we have two rookies on the team that are in position.
‘Shane [Lowry], an Open Championship winner. Shane is not a rookie. He’s played on the big stage now for so many years. He is not going to get a surprise.
Rory McIlroy (right) is guaranteed to feature in Harrington’s team for his sixth Ryder Cup
2019 Open Champion Shane Lowry would be a Team Europe rookie if he qualifies this week
‘If you hold that Claret Jug, you’re more than experienced enough to be able to stand on the first tee at the Ryder Cup.
‘Yes, it will feel different. Yes, you’re going to get a hell of a buzz. But Shane would be an amazing asset to that team.
‘Viktor Hovland is somebody who’s super young, extremely good, and someone that really is going to be a member of Ryder Cup Team Europe for many, many, many years to come.
‘Then everyone else has played a Ryder Cup. If you look at the names that are in that team, world No 1 Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy, that team is pretty stacked with experience.’
23-year-old rookie Viktor Hovland already has two PGA tour win since turning pro in 2019
World No 1 Jon Rahm (left) and McIlory stack Harrington’s team with valued experience
Poulter has played with eight different partners across the foursomes and fourballs and has nine wins in the pairings matches.
And, while he would be happy to pair up with any of his European team-mates this year, he is excited at the prospect of teaming up with hot-shot Hovland.
Poulter and Hovland are a potential pairing after they bonded in Saudi Arabia
Hovland and Poulter sent tongues wagging earlier this year when the Norwegian underlined his Ryder Cup credentials in the company of Poulter at the Saudi International.
After the duo became acquainted on the desert swing, many believed they would make a formidable pairing against the Americans this September – and Poulter agreed.
‘I’m an extremely adaptable player in the Ryder Cup. I have played with a whole host of different types of players and had a lot of success in that format. Viktor Hovland is a guy who I could easily be paired with,’ he said.
‘The short answer would be: yes, if I’m in the team I would definitely be excited about playing with Viktor Hovland.’
Europe have often been underdogs heading into the biennial tournament in terms of world rankings and this year is no different with eight US players occupying places in the top 10.
But Team Europe have famously battled back, most notably in 2012’s ‘Miracle of Medinah’.
The victorious European team were underdogs in their ‘miracle’ win at Medinah in 2012
Poulter believes it is Europe’s unique bond and strong relationship that rally them to victory
Poulter believes it is Europe’s unique bond and strong relationship that rallies them to victory against the odds.
It is something that will undoubtedly be highlighted this year against the contrast of a slightly warring and fractious US team.
Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka’s feud has dominated headlines in recent weeks and, although they have called a truce at the behest of skipper Steve Stricker, the tension within the team is set to cause the US captain a few headaches.
Bryson DeChambeau (right) and Brooks Koepka’s (left) feud is a big US talking point
The rivals have played on the same USA team at previous Ryder and Presidents Cups
However, Poulter is not concerning himself with the spats from over the Atlantic, claiming they are ‘not his issue’.
‘I’ll talk about our dynamic on the Europe team and I’ll leave that team to themselves,’ he said.
‘I really don’t know how their team-room situation works. It’s really difficult for me to comment on how that dynamic is going to work for them.
‘I can only talk about our team room and how we all collectively get on – and we get on very well.
Team Europe’s close friendships have led them to victory in the past, including Paris in 2018
Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari’s close bond saw them secure four points from four
‘That’s always been something that Europe has been very strong on. We have a lot of fun.
‘There’s a lot of laughter. There’s a lot of comedy going on. There’s a lot of pranks going on. It is a very social team.
‘You make friendships during the Ryder Cup week that last a lifetime. That’s how well we get on as Team Europe.
‘However they get on in that team, it is up to them. That’s not my issue.’
Automatic qualifying for Team USA has already wrapped up, with the six spots in Stricker’s team going to Collin Morikawa, Dustin Johnson, Koepka, DeChambeau, Justin Thomas and Patrick Cantlay.
Team USA features stars including Open champion Collin Morikawa (left) and Dustin Johnson
Stricker this week named his wildcards as Tony Finau, Jordan Spieth and rookies Xander Schauffele, Scottie Scheffler, Harris English and Daniel Berger.
Despite the array of talent bolstering the American ranks, Poulter claims he is prepared to face any member of that team to deliver a point for Europe in Sunday’s singles matches.
‘I 100 per cent don’t mind whoever it is,’ he said. ‘Whoever is on that team is a great player. The US team is extremely strong.
‘Whatever pairings come out on Sunday you have one job to do and that job is to go and secure your point. It doesn’t really matter who you play. You just have to play better than whoever you are playing.’
In recent Ryder Cups, European fans have created memorable first tee moments turning the grandstands into a wall of sound and their rowdy chants of ‘ole, ole, ole’ creating an ‘incredible buzz’.
‘That first tee? It’s what you work hard for,’ said Poulter. ‘All of your golfing experience pulls itself together for the fun and the enjoyment that you get out of walking on to that first tee.
Poulter claims the first-tee experience at the Ryder Cup is what every golfer works for
The current travel ban means the players won’t be able to celebrate with fans as in the past
‘At first, the nerves don’t go away. Whether you’re 45 or 25, you’ll experience the same thing. And it’s just an absolutely incredible buzz.’
2021 has seen spectators welcomed back to the course following the eerie quiet of lockdown tournaments.
But the current ban on travellers from the EU and the UK entering the US has led to concerns that the lack of Europeans will magnify the American home soil advantage.
The Postman believes Team Europe fans will still deliver with their voices ringing out across the fairways of Whistling Straits even in their few.
‘I don’t know how many European tickets sold, I’m not sure how many expats have put themselves in a position to pick up those tickets, and I’m not sure if our hardcore fans are able to break the system,’ said Poulter.
Poulter shares his passion for golf’s most entertaining event with his son Luke in 2018
The Postman believes that European fans’ voices will still ring out across Whistling Straits
‘We don’t know yet what the breakdown is going to be. But it’s amazing to have full fans back.
‘Obviously, that wouldn’t have been the case last year. So, the right thing to do was to postpone it for a year, to pack the stand.
‘If we have a number of fans there, we’re going to hear them. Even if there’s just a thousand, we’re going to hear them.
‘We all know what our European fans are like. I’m sure the sing-songs and all of the chants are going to be there. And it’ll be an amazing experience.’
Ian Poulter is a proud global ambassador for DP World, a leading enabler of global trade and long-term European Tour partner committed to helping its customers move goods around the world in ways that are smarter, faster, safer, and more cost-efficient. Find out more at dpworld.com.
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