Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ryder Cup Profiles: Euro Flare

To be fair, American flare just cant can hold a candle to Euro Flare.  Fashion just isn't an American thing.  Take Phil Mickelson for example.  He lost twenty pounds, started wearing flashy belts, bright polos, and stripey pants.  Any European Tour player could make his wardrobe look smart and dapper. 

But Phil still looks like a good ol' American schlub.

While all the euros seem to be able to pull this kinda thing off, no one executes quite like Ryder Team member Ian Poulter.

If I told you that a pink shirt with yellow flowery pants would look go well together, or that a Union Jack shirt and bright red trousers would bring home the ladies, you would think I was off the wagon.  But Poulter makes the ridiculous come true.  In fashion, and in golf.

The "Ian Poulter started as a club pro" story is well worn by now, but it still deserves repeating.  In his late teen years, Ian was ready to become a touring pro but just couldn't string together the consecutive rounds in qualifying tournaments to make his way on tour.  And coming from a family of modest means, his parents couldn't afford to enroll him at a private club where he would be hired as the head pro.  As a result, he was forced into taking a job as an assistant pro and golf shop manager at Chesterfield Downs Golf Course in Hitchen, UK. 

At Chesterfield Downs, Poulter's talent wasn't appreciated.  The Head Pro went out of his way to make Poulter's life difficult and even made him pay to play in official tournaments.  As a result, his handicap stayed at 4, and he wasn't able to qualify for any serious events. 

Don't worry, this one has a happy ending.  Poulter finally qualified for the European Challenge Tour, and made it to the big time a few years later.  He now has 13 worldwide wins and has earned nearly $19.8 million dollars in his career.  His most recent win came at the 2010 Match Play Championship in Tuscon, as he soundly defeated fellow Brit Paul Casey 4&2.

In addition to the Match Play win, Poulter has an impressive record in Ryder Cup play which is highlighted by his 2008 performance where he earned 4 of Team Europe's 11.5 total points.

Poulter's clothes have always made him a notable figure, but his mouth and temper have sometimes made him downright controversial.  In 2006 Poulter was fined for mouthing off to Officials at the Irish Open and at the 2007 Mercedes Championship at Kapalua, Poulter smashed a tee after hitting a poor shot.  Most memorably however, Poulter made comments in 2008 that "only Tiger" would be able to compete with him when he was on form.  While his words were unquestionably taken out of context, he is still a hot heat with a hot mouth. 

Poulter exemplifies the charisma and flare for the dramatic that is present in virtually ever Team Europe Ryder Cup member this year, and I expect that we will continue to see great things out of him.  He is dangerously talented and can certainly perform as well as anyone out there if he plays well.  That is as long as he is not blinded by his own bling. 

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