Ryder Cup: Poulter could be in for a shock pairing at the Ryder Cup
EUROPE are toying with the idea of pairing fire with fire in Versailles at this week’s Ryder Cup by sending out volcanic rookie Tyrrell Hatton with their ultimate passion player Ian Poulter.
The high-voltage duo, who will compete together for England at the World Cup in Australia, practised in tandem yesterday.
If the concern for captain Thomas Bjorn is that the pressure and intensity of a Ryder Cup debut would allow Hatton’s bag-kicking and club-throwing to turn into something more destructive, pairing him with a wise old head makes sense.
Sixteen years Hatton’s senior at 42, Poulter fits the age bracket – but not the personality profile.
If Bjorn follows through on the idea, there could be thunder rumbling around Le Golf National when the contest starts on Friday.
“The World Cup is going to be good fun. If we were to play together this week, then it would be pretty special,” said Hatton.
“He’s a Ryder Cup legend, and me being a rookie and all this being new to me, it would be good to get some experience, so we’ll just have to see what happens there.
“It doesn’t matter who I play with this week. Obviously we’ll be trying our best to win a point for Europe. That’s all we can do. But I don’t think there’s a standout personality that I would say I need to calm me down or whatever. I’m not going to turn into the Hulk this week, anyway. I hope.”
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Poulter’s Tigger-like excitement at playing in his sixth Ryder Cup prompted a spectacular fall yesterday. As he was about to hold court at the media centre ahead of practice, he jumped athletically from a golf buggy in his spikes only to slip on the walkway as he landed and end up sprawled on the ground.
“I’m more excited today than I was in 2004 when I made my debut, if that’s possible,” he said.
“It’s going to be interesting to see who I’m going to be paired with. Is it going to be with an experienced player, or is it going to be with one of the rookies? There is a big difference between the two.
“Whoever I’m partnered with needs to be comfortable with how I am on the course, and I need to be comfortable with them.”
The Australia date in November confirms the synergy with Hatton.
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While Poulter’s eyeballs-out antics have electrified past Ryder Cups and inspired Europe to the Miracle of Medinah victory in 2014, Hatton has not always channelled his desire in as constructive a way.
He knows he has to balance his rapacious will to win with a need to put the team first this week.
“I’m going to be passionate. I can only be myself. But, saying that, I need to stay as level-headed as possible,” he said.
“In the past, I’ve lost tournaments from getting in my own way which is pretty fair to say.
“This week, if I can keep my head, that will give me the best chance to play as well as I can and hopefully that gets rewarded with some points for Europe.
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“I’m going to make mistakes, I’m human, but I’m just going to channel all my energy into being as good as I can be and helping my team-mates as much as possible.
“I don’t want to go the other way and lose my head because then it starts affecting other people and that’s not what I want. We’re here as a team.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly given his temperament, Hatton cites Colin Montgomerie – a tortured genius given to explosions at the sound of a packet of mints being opened during his backswing within half a mile on the course – as his Ryder Cup hero.
The world No26, whose rants tend to be aimed more at himself or at green surfaces, has tried psychologists in the past to try to improve his outlook on the course but prefers to go down the self-help route.
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“If I look back and if I’ve played a tournament and I know I’ve been bad, I’m exactly the same watching myself be stupid as you are at home cringing on the sofa watching it,” he said.
“It’s obviously not great, but at the same time, it’s not something I’m thinking about on the course. It’s almost just a reaction at times.
“I know when I can get bad and it’s just being more aware of that and trying to find a way of calming myself down and not allowing myself to get to that stage.”