In this week’s Player Blog presented by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, 22-year-old Englishman Sam Horsfield writes about the role his one-time mentor – and now friend and rival – Ian Poulter played in his early golfing career as he grew up in Orlando.
I first met Ian when I was 14. I got introduced to his former caddie and now manager Terry Mundy by a mutual friend of Ian's, and the first time we met we played nine holes together at Lake Nona.
People say that I played better than Ian that day. I can't really remember as it was such a long time ago, but I remember us having a good time and we just got on together straight away. The first time we met we were meant to tee off at 9am but he showed up at 8.15am to hit a few balls and really spend some time with me. We're both still members at Lake Nona, and although we're busy with our own schedules, whenever we're both back in Orlando we try to see each other.
It's more than a golf relationship. He knows my family well and I know his too. He's always been really good to me and I really admire him. It's just a shame he supports Arsenal - coming from Manchester I'm a Manchester United fan!
8 years ago I met this young lad called @hr59sam and played 9 holes at Lake Nona. This week we partnered in the @Zurich_Classic. Great week, We are T10 right now. Work hard goals can be achieved.. Have a great week in China next week on @EuropeanTour 👍🏼👊🏼 pic.twitter.com/64zkQ6WsYR— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) April 28, 2019
When Ian said some nice things about me on Twitter, that really boosted my confidence. I knew that I was going to be a professional golfer as I had played well in college and junior events, but when you have someone like Ian come out and say that it makes you feel good.
It's not just Ian, but his team also really helped me through my amateur days. Terry and another of Ian’s managers Paul Dunkley have been there all the way through for me. Having Ian on my side has been such a positive as I can always message him about certain situations and he's there for me – the same with Paul and Terry. It never hurts to have guys like that in your corner.
I go to Ian's place quite a lot when I'm at home. As many people know he's really into his cars – a bit more than me – but he has some beauties there, and I have been lucky enough to go for a ride in a few, including a pretty impressive Rolls Royce Ghost that he used to have.
We also really like to play basketball. His son, Luke, is really into basketball so you'll often find the three of us playing together - I can confirm that I'm better than Ian! It's great just to have someone who you can go and chat with and just talk about lots of normal things, away from the course. We don't talk too much about golf-related stuff, he normally just sends me funny things, but we do message each other when one of us plays well – I messaged him after he won in Houston last year.
He messaged me after I'd got through Q-School, which was such a tough few weeks. I played a practice round for First Stage with Terry and Paul, and they kept reminding me that you can't be 'perfect' all the time through that experience. You play so much golf and it's so key not to be too aggressive - which is hard for me to think at times as I'm young and I want to just push on most of the time. I managed to win Q-School and that advice has proved invaluable and has stuck with me for a while since.
I'm extremely impressed just like I was 7 years ago with this young man @hr59sam. @EuropeanTour School is a daunting week. Many congratulations to now being employed and I hope you enjoy the new job. May you have a long and successful career mate. 👍🏻 pic.twitter.com/o8CCluTyI8— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) November 16, 2017
Now we're both out on Tour we're trying to beat each other. Obviously, Ian and I are still good friends, but at the end of the day we both want to win each time we tee it up. We've all seen how Ian is in The Ryder Cup – he always just wants to kick ass – and it's clear he's a true competitor.
At the end of last season in Dubai Ian and I had a wager on who would do best in the first round. We do friendly things like that and we're still trying to beat each other, but it's healthy competition. When I get to play a tournament with Ian we still have a good time and go out for dinner together, but on the course we are still trying to beat one another.
It was great to play on the same team in the Zurich Classic on the PGA Tour – we did pretty good and finished tied ninth. We got to play with Brooks Koepka during the first two days, so that was cool, but it was a laid-back week because there were no world ranking points and lots of guys played with their friends.
Normally when you're at an event you do your own thing, but that week we had the same tee times so I was able to see how Ian prepares and how he handles different situations on the golf course. During the last round he told me what he thinks I can improve on and how I can get better, but most of the time we were talking about everything away from golf.
We've spoken a little bit about Medinah. He told me how he just got into a zone and he just 'went'. We've had some really cool conversations about experiences he's had, he also recently told me how it was to play with Tiger at the Masters, some things which are more life experiences rather than just normal golf conversations.
Some of the things he has done in The Ryder Cup are crazy I've got no idea where he keeps his Postman outfit from 2018. I haven't seen it in his house yet!
Unreal Scenes 📮🤣🤣🤣— Ryder Cup Europe (@RyderCupEurope) September 30, 2018
Ian Poulter is inside a postbox!!!!! pic.twitter.com/iT7ZLnMtyk
There are young English guys out in Orlando who I am friendly with now. There's one guy in particular called Joe Pagdin. He's from Sheffield originally but he's grown up in Orlando and I think he's going to be really good. Joe is also a member at Lake Nona so I get to play with him quite a bit. Ian and I have spoken about him and feel the same way about him – that he's got a bright future ahead.