He’s tasted success on the Melbourne Sandbelt and is a Ryder Cup colossus, so picking Ian Poulter to be his partner at the World Cup of Golf at Metropolitan Golf Club from November 22-25 was a ‘no-brainer’ according to Englishman Tyrrell Hatton.
Teammates for Europe at the Ryder Cup in Paris just a month ago, the English pairing of Hatton and Poulter shapes as one of the World Cup’s best, especially given Poulter’s experience on the famed Sandbelt.
The 42-year-old was a three-shot winner of the Australian Masters at Victoria Golf Club in 2011 and was runner-up to Adam Scott at Kingston Heath Golf Club a year later, performances that were part of his pitch to Hatton prior to selection.
“He might have mentioned it as a passing comment,” Hatton revealed 30 days out from when the World Cup tees off.
“It was a no-brainer from that point of view, but also he showed a really keen interest to play in the tournament, so it was an easy decision. Obviously he’s only just behind me in the World Rankings and it was important as well to have as strong a team as possible. We’re good friends and we get on well, and we’ll obviously be going down there to try and play as well as we can and hopefully have a really good week.”
Ranked 184th in the world at the end of 2016, Poulter has risen to now be 35th and made it clear to No.23-ranked Hatton how passionate he was about representing his country in a World Cup for the sixth time.
“I said to him, ‘Listen, I’m very, very interested and excited if you want to team up to come down to Metropolitan to play,’” Poulter said. “I’ve heard lots of good things about the golf course and I would love to be your partner.
“So Tyrrell was keen and we’re coming off the back of a good Ryder Cup and feeling pretty good about our games. I’m quite excited to get down there to see the course, to play, and obviously compete in the World Cup. It’s an opportunity again to put a team shirt on, feel the buzz and excitement and hopefully we can hoist that trophy come Sunday.”
Conceding that home-ground advantage makes the Australian pairing of Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith deserved favourites, Poulter is confident that with his record and Hatton’s stellar play this season that England can mount a strong challenge.
“I love everything about the Sandbelt courses. Victoria, Kingston Heath, Royal Melbourne… That’s one of the reasons why I was super excited to put it to Tyrrell to come down and play,” said Poulter, who last played in the World Cup in 2011 when he and Justin Rose finished second behind Americans Matt Kuchar and Gary Woodland.
“I think my record down there has been pretty good through the years when I have come down to play, and that’s why I said to him, ‘Listen, I’ve heard nothing but great things about Metropolitan and some people are telling me it’s the best of all of them.’ I was really, really keen to come down and experience that, play it. I think Tyrrell’s going to love it as well.
“From the ones that I’ve played and been pretty good at, they’re firm, they’re fast, they’re fiery, the bunkering is perfect. You play links style golf, it can get very windy and that lends itself to links style conditions. That’s one of the reasons why I’ve enjoyed it through the years.
“You’ve got super-quick greens down there, which we kind of don’t have in links conditions for us back in the UK, the greens aren’t normally as fast, so you kind of blend the best of both worlds. You’ve got pure, fast putting surfaces, you’ve got links style conditions where, you know, it’s position off the tee, accuracy, distance control. So you’ve got the perfect blend of golf courses.
“(Tyrrell) hits it very straight and he makes loads of putts, which is a really nice combination. So if you take that combination and that type of game down there, then with my experience I think it’s a good team. I’m super excited to come down.”
As for the influence the sartorially splendid Poulter would have on the team uniforms during their week in Melbourne, Captain Hatton has pulled rank.
“I would love to see Tyrrell in some funky pants, but it’s not going to happen, I’m afraid,” said a despondent Poulter. “I’m sure we’ll be wearing red and white and I’m looking forward to that, but Tyrrell won’t be wearing any funky pants.”
Added Hatton: “After watching him as I was growing up, seeing him wear some outrageous outfits, I think it’s safer if I chose the outfits for that week.”