The thought of these two gladiators facing each other this week sends shivers down every golf fan’s spine. The two golfers epitomise everything that is good about the Ryder Cup. Their fierce drive to win, their passion for competition and their unwavering skill in golf’s most daunting competition. They are both talismans of their sides, and we at Toals Sport take a look at their most iconic Ryder Cup moments.
The Poulter/Ryder Cup relationship is a love affair. From clutch putts to chip-ins, to his “bulging eyes” in passionate celebration, Poulter wears his heart on his sleeve, and his name is synonymous with the Ryder Cup.
In 2008, the European team suffered a heavy defeat at Valhalla on American soil. Nick Faldo was heavily criticised for picking Poulter over Darren Clarke to play for Team Europe. In hindsight, selecting Poulter was arguably one of few decisions that went well for Faldo that week, although the team were beaten convincingly.
Poulter was the one ray of sunshine on a poor European performance. Labelled as “fortunate to be there,” in true Poulter fashion he silenced the critics by winning four of his five matches that week.
The Postman certainly delivered, his four points was more than any other player from either side scored in 2008.
Every year, in every competition, professional golfers insist on quiet spectators to allow them to concentrate and produce world-class golf.
On day one in 2012, Bubba Watson had other ideas. The quirky American revved the crowd up on the first tee and encouraged them to make as much noise as possible when he teed off.
We must thank the golfing gods for pairing Poults and Bubba the next morning. Playing foursomes with his partner Rose, Poults had the honour and insisted that the crowd were as loud as Bubba had encouraged them to be. He missed the fairway, but it’s the thought that counts!
The biggest comeback in Ryder Cup history is largely down to Ian Poulter. His willingness to fight for every point, refusing to accept defeat, defines his role within the European’s “Miracle at Medina”. So, let’s take a trip down memory lane:
With Europe trailing 10-4 on Saturday, the team looked down and out. Paired with Poults, McIlroy was there, first hand, to watch what happened. Poulter caught fire, rallying with a run of five consecutive birdies to win their fourball match 1up. Ultimately, this was a turning point; it gave Europe the impetus, the spark of hope and the leader to follow.
Who better to take us through this moment than the Postman himself!
As the famous saying goes: the rest is history! Europe went on to complete the most memorable comeback in the history of the Ryder Cup. (If that wasn’t enough, the Englishman also went on to win his singles match on Sunday!)
Following impressive performances on day 1 and day 2 with Jordan Spieth, it was the duo that gave Tom Watson the honour of leading the US team on Singles Sunday. The faith shown in him, as a rookie, is an indicator of how well Patrick Reed took to the Ryder Cup.
Playing Henrick Stenson, on paper, would always be a tough ask. But when Henrick piled the pressure on winning the 6th hole with a lengthy putt, Reed reached the 7th green with a tricky putt, holed it, and the scenes that followed are legendary. Reed shushed the crowd as they responded with boos, he returned in kind with cries of “come on”.
This act of defiance, refusing to back down in his first Ryder Cup confirmed his stature as “Captain America”. He then went on to beat Stenson.
I can still remember it as if it were yesterday what happened on that 8th Green at Hazeltine. The pair traded early blows before reaching the par three 8th. With the match finely poised at all square, both players found the par 3 in regulation.
Rory dared to hole from distance. He then mocked the crowd and sarcastically bowed to the away fans. Patrick was not to be outdone by Rory, he followed him in and turned to his competitor shaking his finger. I can only imagine what was going through Reed’s mind reading that putt, the sheer determination to put Rory in his place. The skill to follow him in illustrates Reed’s ability and will live long in the memory.
Rory definitely won’t want to see this again!
The similarities between the two players are unparalleled. Both seem to save their best golf for the Ryder Cup, both feed off the crowd’s energy, and both are unbeaten in singles. I don’t think there is a golf fan out there who wouldn’t want to watch a Sunday showdown between these golfing warriors with the Cup’s destiny still undecided.
Although currently, Poults seems to have more highlights, Reed is still early in his Ryder Cup career and will have more iconic moments to come. One thing is for sure; these two are well underway in carving themselves into Ryder Cup folk law.