Darren Clarke, the European Captain for The 2016 Ryder Cup, has named Ian Poulter as his fourth Vice Captain for the contest against the United States at Hazeltine National in September.
The 40 year old Englishman will bring not only a wealth of experience to Clarke’s backroom team, having played five times for Europe in the biennial contest, he will also bring the famous passion and commitment that has made him one of the most fearsome competitors in the tournament’s 89 year history.
In his five outings – 2004 at Oakland Hills, 2008 at Valhalla, 2010 at Celtic Manor, 2012 at Medinah and 2014 at Gleneagles – he has helped Europe to victory on four occasions and, even in the one reverse at Valhalla, the 12 time European Tour champion still emerged as the top points scorer from either side that week, with four points out of five.
Poulter has notched 12 wins and two half points from the 18 Ryder Cup matches he has played to date, but it was his performance at Medinah in 2012 – where once again he emerged as top points scorer from either side – that resonates strongest.
With Europe trailing 10-4 and seemingly down and out, Poulter rallied with an incredible run of five birdies in a row to close out his Saturday afternoon fourball match with Rory McIlroy against Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson. It gave Europe the impetus it needed to go on and complete the most remarkable comeback in Ryder Cup history the following day, Poulter, of course, adding another point with a final green victory over Webb Simpson in the singles.
The Englishman had harboured hopes of making his sixth competitive appearance in Chaska, Minnesota from September 30 to October 2, but announced last week that a troublesome arthritic joint injury in his right foot has forced him to take a four-month break from competitive golf.
Poulter said: “Everyone who knows me knows how much The Ryder Cup means, having given me memories to savour over the past 12 years and created friendships that will last a lifetime.
“Therefore when it became clear, given my current foot condition, that I would not be in a position to try and qualify for the team for a sixth time this year or indeed be able to justify a wild card pick, I was truly honoured and delighted to be asked by Darren to be a Vice Captain.
“The best moments of my career have come when I have been wearing the blue and gold crest of Europe on my chest, knowing at the same time that the contest means so much to every European player and to every European fan, either in the crowd or watching back home on television.
“Darren shares that same passion and he knows I will be there to assist him and the 12 players who will line up at Hazeltine in any way I can.
“We have a tremendous record in The Ryder Cup in recent times, having played with passion, desire and commitment. It is something we should be proud of and, rest assured, I will do everything in my power to maintain that intensity and help Europe’s quest to retain the trophy.”
Clarke said: “I am absolutely delighted to name Ian as my fourth Vice Captain for the match at Hazeltine. Ian’s Ryder Cup record speaks for itself and stands comparison with anyone in the history of this great contest. It goes without saying what a vital presence he will be in our team room come September.
“I picked Ian as a wild card for Europe’s EurAsia Cup team in January and while he delivered on the golf course with three wins out of three, I also saw first-hand his influence off the golf course, especially amongst the younger players who were experiencing team match play golf for the first time. When he spoke, everyone listened, and the same will be the case at Hazeltine.
“I could not be happier with the way our backroom team is shaping up. To have announced players of the calibre and stature of Thomas Bjørn, Padraig Harrington and Paul Lawrie ten days ago and now to add Ian Poulter to that mix is tremendous, not just for me personally, but for the whole of Europe.”
In total, Bjørn, Harrington, Lawrie and Poulter have 16 Ryder Cup appearances to their names between them. Captain Clarke will add his fifth and final Vice Captain later this summer.
European Tour www.europeantour.com
Ryder Cup European Development Trust www.rctrust.info
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