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Risky Ryder Cup strategy from Ian Poulter

Ian Poulter accepts he might have cost himself a Ryder Cup spot by playing in this week’s Deutsche Bank Championship instead of the Johnnie Walker Championship in Scotland.

The 32-year-old has a burning desire to make his second appearance in the biennial team competition but, after lengthy vacillation, he eventually decided to remain on the PGA Tour.

Poulter, just outside the automatic top-10 places in the European Ryder Cup points standings, is pinning his hopes on being one of captain Nick Faldo’s two wildcard picks for next month’s matches.

“My decision to play here this week has been taken in many different ways,” the fashion-conscious Englishman told reporters on the eve of Friday’s opening round at the TPC Boston.

“This was a personal decision to be here and a decision which really, after missing the cut last week, didn’t leave me many other options.

“I need to try and play well this week so I can, one, play 15 events on the PGA Tour and, two, get into next week, which is very important, to try and get into the Tour Championship.”

Poulter missed the cut in the opening event of the FedExCup playoffs and needs to perform well in Boston to have any chance of qualifying for the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship that follow.

“I spent a couple of days thinking about whether I should go back to Gleneagles,” Poulter said, referring to the last points-counting event on the European Tour for the September 19-21 Ryder Cup.

“At one stage, I had changed all six flights to fly back. I then slept on it and woke up at 4:00 in the morning and took another look, and I really felt like this was my best chance.

“Was it the right decision? I’m not sure. You know, it might have been a mistake. But I’ve taken a personal decision, and I’m not there. I’m here and I have to stick by that.”

The first 10 names on the European team will be decided on Sunday after the Johnnie Walker Championship before Faldo adds two picks.

Although three of the automatic spots are still hanging in the balance, the leading contenders for wildcard selection are Poulter and fellow Britons Paul Casey, Darren Clarke and Colin Montgomerie.

Clarke advanced his claims by winning last week’s Dutch Open on the same day that Casey finished joint seventh in the FedExCup’s Barclays Classic.

Poulter, runner-up to Ireland’s Padraig Harrington at last month’s British Open, lost ground on his rivals by missing the cut at the Barclays but believes his 2008 record is superior.

“I have to take confidence out of my second-place finish at the Open four tournaments ago,” said the world number 23, who made his only previous Ryder Cup appearance in 2004.

“It’s not as if it was four months ago or 10 months ago.

“If you look at my statistics over the last 12 months, I’m 70 points in the world rankings ahead of Paul Casey and Darren Clarke. I’ve played very well this season.

“I want to make this Ryder Cup side. I want to play well these next two days so I am in Nick’s frame of mind to be a pick. I want to be a pick; I want to play.”


August 29, 2008

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