Ian Poulter’s exhilarating attempt to overhaul eventual US PGA Champion Rory McIlroy might have fallen just short on Sunday, but the Englishman’s tied third finish at Kiawah Island had far-reaching consequences on The European Ryder Cup standings.
Poulter, who had entered the week in 12th place in the World Points List – two outside of the automatic qualification spots, was being touted in the media as a strong favourite for a Captain’s Pick before the final Major Championship of the season, but the 36 year old was determined not to leave his selection to chance.
When teeing off on Thursday, Poulter at that stage boasted a total of 143.14 points, just under 16 less than Sergio Garcia who then held the final automatic qualification spot.
When the Spaniard missed the cut on Friday in South Carolina, Poulter knew he had a real chance of breaking into the top ten with a solid performance at the weekend.
Poulter’s performance far exceeded ‘solid’, however, as six birdies in the first seven holes during the final round gave him a real shot at challenging for a maiden Major title, before his Northern Irish team-mate eventually romped home to victory leaving Poulter in a four-way share for third place.
That final position yielded 28.5 valuable points to Poulter, though, meaning he climbs into the tenth qualification spot on 171.64, thus ousting Garcia from his guaranteed position in José María Olazábal's team that will take on the USA at Medinah Country Club at the end of September.
Widely regarded as one of the finest exponents of match play golf in the world, Poulter is now in position to make a fourth appearance in The Ryder Cup one way or another: as either a late mover into the automatic spots, or as a Captain’s Pick as one of the current form-men in European golf following a highly impressive showing on the Ocean Course.
Despite missing the cut at the US PGA Championship, Martin Kaymer retains his ninth place in the team as it stands, narrowly ahead of Poulter on 172.26 points, while Sweden’s Peter Hanson, who made his Ryder Cup debut in the victorious team of 2010, has seemingly all but secured a second consecutive appearance with a tied seventh finish at Kiawah solidifying his place as the third man that would qualify from the World Points List after Luke Donald and Lee Westwood.
With none of the current qualifiers from the European Points List changing following results in the United States, and only two weeks left in which to mount a late charge for the line, excitement is building as The European Ryder Cup Team begins to take its final shape.
At the close of play following the Johnnie Walker Champion at Gleneagles, with those in the top five positions in the European Points List and those not otherwise qualified being taken from the World Points List, the final ten automatic qualification spots will be decided on August 26, while Captain Olazábal will name his two wildcard Captain’s Picks the following day.
The final eight to automatically qualify for the US Ryder Cup team were solidified following the culmination of the US PGA Championship, as Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson, Jason Dufner, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar and Phil Mickelson all secured a coveted place in the team that will take to Medinah’s Number Three course in golf’s iconic transatlantic battle from September 28-30.