You want to put your opponent under pressure right away, get your nose out in front,” says Ian Poulter, one of the best matchplay competitors of his generation, with an undefeated record in Ryder Cup singles (8-3 overall). “In matchplay you have to attack every pin, and when you get a lead,keep your foot on the accelerator,” he adds. At the 2010 Ryder Cup, that meant defeating Matt Kuchar in 14 holes.
“From the fi rst tee shot your adrenalin is going, and you want to get rid of your opponent as quickly as possible,” says the man who has won more than three times as many holes as he has lost in Ryder Cup singles. “After every shot the clock is ticking, and it’s a lot easier to win holes early than late. Don’t give anything away from the start. That’s how you become a player who’s tough to beat.”
“When you play anyone at matchplay, you must think about stuffi ng them 10&9. You must be respectful, but be absolutely ruthless as well. Whoever you are playing, you must try to convince yourself that they are no good, and that you are better than them all. If you don’t believe that, you will lose. I just love the buzz, and I think it’s important to try and enjoy the pressure and intensity.
The Ryder Cup is an incredible week, where the shots that get played are absolutely bonkers. So often you get guys shooting 7 or 8 under and losing matches. The best advice I can give anyone is never relax. Even if you hit it to six feet, and your opponent misses the green, don’t even - for a second – think they are not going to hole their chip shot. That way you won’t be shocked. And concentrate on your six-footer as though you’ve got it to win a Major. I tell myself on every hole that I am going to send the huge crowds absolutely crazy. I want to hole a 30-footer and feed off their reaction, send them into a frenzy."