Ian Poulter admits it will take “extra special” golf to retain the Ryder Cup in front of a hostile crowd and will make no apologies if that gives him cause for more chest-beating celebrations.
The United States are odds-on favourites to make it seven wins in the last eight contests for the home side, with all 12 of their players ranked inside the world’s top 21.
But Europe’s dozen are well accustomed to overcoming the odds and Poulter will draw on his experience of inspiring their last win on US soil at Medinah in 2012 as Padraig Harrington’s side bid to retain the trophy won in convincing fashion in Paris three years ago.
“It’s a great buzz to win away from home,” Poulter said ahead of a practice round at Whistling Straits. “Look around, the grandstands are red, the fans are 98 per cent US fans, it is difficult from start to finish.
“It is hard, it is not easy to play away from home. As much as we feel comfortable as a team to know we’re underdogs, to know that we have to play extra special this week to get the job done it feels pretty rewarding at the end of the week if we can get it done.”
Nicknamed ‘The Postman’ because he always delivers a point, Poulter has become such an integral part of the Ryder Cup that it never seemed in doubt that he would receive a wild card – his fifth in seven contests – from Harrington.
The 45-year-old won two and lost two of his four matches in Paris in 2018, but maintained his unbeaten record in the singles with victory over Dustin Johnson, who was ranked world number one at the time.
Asked if he sensed that his passion and success in the Ryder Cup had annoyed the people he has beaten, Poulter added: “I’m sure I’ve annoyed plenty.
“I mean, my (winning) percentage has been really nice, for me, and not for the guys I’ve played against, so I’m sure that’s been pretty frustrating to be on the receiving end of that.
“It feels nice. I enjoy holing putts and winning matches. It’s been a great ride. I’m never going to apologise for it. It’s how match play should be played.”
US captain Steve Stricker expects a “rowdy” atmosphere when play gets under on Friday in his home state of Wisconsin, but the 54-year-old hopes there will be no repeat of the scenes which marred the last contest on US soil and called for fans not to “cross the line”.
Europe’s Rory McIlroy bore the brunt of the heckling over the first two days at Hazeltine in 2016, ultimately having to ask for one man to be removed for being abusive during Saturday’s afternoon fourballs.
Coronavirus travel restrictions means there will be precious little European support at Whistling Straits, but Poulter added: “There’s only been a few, but the US fans have been brilliant so far. They really have.
“They’re wishing me well. Not too well, but they’re wishing me well, which is quite nice. That hasn’t always been the case, but so far so good.”