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Poulter declares he will be ready and has nothing to prove

The cocky swagger, the chest puffed out like a gorilla at the height of the mating season?

Ian Poulter will not join his fellow wild cards at the Welsh Open ahead of the Ryder Cup and prepare at home. Picture: Getty
Ian Poulter will not join his fellow wild cards at the Welsh Open ahead of the Ryder Cup and prepare at home. Picture: Getty

It could only be Ian Poulter .

Gleneagles will be the next stop for Europe's Ryder Cup talisman after he was handed the anticipated wild card by team captain Paul McGinley on Monday.

McGinley would like to see him play before that, of course. His other two captain's picks, Stephen Gallacher and Lee Westwood, have committed to the Wales Open the week before the Ryder Cup but Poulter won't be heading for Celtic Manor. Disobeying the man in charge already? Perhaps Poulter is the only man who can get away with it.

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The 38-year-old has taken on almost legendary status in the transatlantic tussle and his record of just three defeats in 15 matches since his debut in 2004 stands up beside the best. During a disappointing season, hampered by a series of niggling injuries, Poulter, it seems, knows best. "Paul asked if playing Celtic Manor like Lee might be a good idea," said the Florida-based Englishman. "But I'm worried the weather might be bad, that it might turn into a slog, and if that happened it wouldn't do me any good in terms of preparation. I've played a lot of golf recently and I feel I can get more done in the gym and practising at home.

"I know how to prepare for a Ryder Cup and get it right. I've been there a few times now, and my record in terms of turning up ready to play my best golf and go out there as often as the captain wants me to stacks up pretty well. I told Paul that, and he said he's got faith in me to get it right and to turn up on the first tee ready to play my heart out."

After a strong finish to 2013, during which he was runner-up in both the WGC HSBC Champions and the DP World Tour Championship, Poulter has gone off the boil. Of the world's top 50, only the injured Tiger Woods has accrued fewer world ranking points than him this season. Like the off-colour Westwood, it was instinct not statistics that led to McGinley giving him the nod.

"There is more pressure when you get picked rather than play your way onto the team but, let's be honest, nobody could ever put me under more pressure than I put on myself," added Poulter. "It's no secret that I haven't played as well as I would have wanted, but there have been good reasons for that; mostly a succession of niggling injuries.

"Now I'm looking to finish the season strong, just like I did last year. I wanted to make the team on merit, but now that I've been given a wild card it means I'll have to try to find that little bit extra to show that Paul was right to pick me. When I got picked in 2008 there was far more outside pressure because people were questioning whether I deserved a place, and that hasn't happened this time. But when I got the pick in 2008 I just told myself I had to stand and deliver. And I've got to do the same thing for Paul this time.

"I'll really ramp it up over these next three weeks, because everyone knows how much the Ryder Cup means to me. There's nothing like it as far as I'm concerned, nothing that comes close to getting the passion and the juices flowing. That's why I tend to play exceptionally well with a European badge on my chest."

No doubt that chest will be puffed out as usual.

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