Rumours of Ian Poulter’s demise are being greatly exaggerated. Yes, he has not won for over three years. Yes, he has fallen out of the world’s top 50. And yes, he has just turned 40. But this is Ian Poulter. And anyone who knows anything about the Englishman will be aware of two things. First, he plays his best golf when he has a point to prove. Second, he is an entirely different golfing animal in Ryder Cup years...
Would you consider being an assistant captain if you don’t make the Ryder Cup team?
Let’s not play the ‘if’ game. In my eyes I’m going to make the team, that’s what’s going to happen.
Who do you think will join you in the team?
It wouldn’t be a shock to see Matt Fitzpatrick in there. There are rookies in every match and given the way the young English guys have played in the last few months I’d expect to see some of them having a run.
Matt won the 2015 British Masters. What was it like being the host?
It was a huge honour – and a big responsibility. I didn’t know what to expect, but I loved the buzz and the European Tour, Sky Sports and Woburn did a great job. To have over 15,000 fans come out every day was incredible, and to know that under-16s could come and watch for free was great. We need to grow the game and hopefully the week inspired some kids to play more.
Seeing your Ferrari in the car park will also have inspired them. What is the fastest you’ve ever driven?
My current record is 190mph. It was at Le Luc race track in the South of France and it was lovely, a big thrill.
How does this compare to the fastest swing speed you’ve hit with your driver?
I don’t pay much attention to swing speed, because hitting the ball hard is far less important than hitting it well. Good driving is all about the efficiency of your ball speed and clubhead speed, so I focus on my smash factor [ball speed divided by clubhead speed]. You are better off having a slightly lower swing speed and a smash factor of 1.50 than a 125mph clubhead speed and a smash factor of 1.30.
What’s the first thing you do when you come back to Britain from America?
I eat a bacon sandwich and then have a curry in the evening. I crave them! But they are no good for my waistline, so I tend to put on a few pounds. It’s always ‘gym time’ when I return to the States.
It’s pretty cold, wet and rainy in the UK right now. What are the worst conditions you’ve played golf in?
The worst was probably the Saturday of the 2002 Open at Muirfield, which Ernie Els went on to win. The conditions were absolutely atrocious, and I have never played in anything like that before.
You finished runner-up in the 2008 Open. Is the Open the Major that sets up best for your game?
It is probably a toss-up between the Open and the Masters. It is hard to decide which one, as the Open requires a lot of shot-making and the Masters requires a lot of imagination around the greens. Both of these play to the strengths of my game.
You’ve been known to hit the odd shank. How does it feel to hit a shot like that?
I’ll be honest... it’s like someone smashing you around the head with a wet salmon. Out of the blue you turn around and get one of those slapped in your face. The really annoying thing is I know what causes them.
Not committing to the shot. If you commit to the shot you intend to play, you are fine. If you have a complete brain fart, a shank follows.
Which sportsperson do you most admire?
Muhammad Ali was a charismatic legend who has a great personality and did things his own way.
Will Smith played Ali in a movie. Who would take the lead role in a movie about your life?
Tongue in cheek, I am going to say Tom Cruise. No, Brad Pitt.