Sept. 21-26, 2021 Whistling Straits, Kohler, WI
Ian Poulter

Ian Poulter admits Europe go into the Ryder Cup this week as underdogs but is confident a "special" performance can see Pádraig Harrington's men bring the trophy back across the Atlantic.

The Englishman has been a talisman for Europe since making his debut in 2004, winning the trophy five times in his six appearances and racking up 15 points along the way.

He has picked up nine of those points in the United States, claiming one on debut at Oakland Hills, four in a losing effort at Valhalla and four as he set the ball rolling on the comeback during the Miracle at Medinah.

With very few European fans present due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, the American crowd will be able to make their presence even more keenly felt, but Poulter is relishing the potential atmosphere come Friday morning at Whistling Straits.

Ian Poulter faced the press on Wednesday

"It's a great buzz," he said. "You only have to look around and all the grandstands are red.

"Everything that you look at, the fans, 98 per cent are obviously going to be US fans this week. It's difficult from start to finish. It's hard. It's not easy to play away from home.

"As much as we feel comfortable as a team, to know we're underdogs, to know that we have to play extra special this week to get the job done. It feels pretty rewarding at the end of the week if we can get it done.

"Course set-up is obviously this week heavily weighed in the US as opposed to how we set things up back in Europe, so I guess everything is stacked against us.

"When you have that, when you can go in as underdogs, when you can turn the tide and actually come out victorious, it means a little bit more.

To know we're underdogs, to know that we have to play extra special this week to get the job done. It feels pretty rewarding at the end of the week if we can get it done
— Ian Poulter

"The US fans have been brilliant to far, they really have. They're wishing me well, not too well, but they're wishing me well, which is quite nice. That hasn't always been the case but so far so good."

Poulter's only defeat in the Ryder Cup came in Kentucky 13 years ago and while he had a personally successful week, he admits he would happily go home pointless if he gets to lift the Cup.

"That was miserable," he said of Valhalla. "Even though I think I picked up four points that week, it meant nothing.

"To have a personal kind of individual week, which this is not individual at all, it means nothing. To go 4-0 and lose is pretty depressing. You'd rather go 0-4 and win.

"If that played itself out this week, I'd still be pretty happy on Sunday night if I was to play it out that way."

Poulter and Fleetwood were victorious teammates in 2018

After the victory in Paris three years ago, Poulter famously dressed as a postbox, while Tommy Fleetwood was hoisted aloft by jubilant European fans.

There will be no such scenes should Europe be successful this week, but Fleetwood believes the team can create their own energy.

"I think we create it ourselves and we do it with each other," he said. "Of course this is a different challenge, different atmosphere for us and something that I have actually never experienced before, so even though it's not my first Ryder Cup, it's my first one in America.

"I'm still excited by the challenge and what an away crowd for us brings to it, and maybe the advantage that the Americans have.

"Really, really looking forward to going out with my teammates and going and fighting for this Ryder Cup together. Either pulling each other up or whatever it is that we need to do to do that, but I'm looking forward to going out there with the guys and just creating our own atmosphere."

I love being in the environment that we create when a Ryder Cup comes around
— Tommy Fleetwood

Fleetwood will have a different playing partner this time around with Francesco Molinari absent, after the duo famously claimed four points out of four together, giving birth to the Moliwood phenomenon.

And while the Englishman admits his Italian friend would loved to have been present this week, he does not feel lonely without him.

"Definitely not lonely with the guys in the team that we have," he said. "I feel massively privileged to be here with everybody that's part of the team and loving every minute.

"I think Fran... anybody that hasn't played a Ryder Cup or when you have been, you want to be part of it all the time and you want to be just adding and contributing something to the team.

"So he would have loved to be here. I speak to him all the time, he's a massive supporter of the team and he will be this week.

Tommy Fleetwood is looking forward to his second Ryder Cup

"But for me, it's another Ryder Cup. It's with a bunch of guys that were in Paris, it's with some new guys but guys that you see all the time.

"I think just being a part of Team Europe, everybody feels and is made to feel so at home and so part of it and I love being in the environment that we create when a Ryder Cup comes around.

"I had an incredibly lucky experience that in my first Ryder Cup as a rookie I had somebody like Francesco by my side who was obviously playing great and I was playing well.

"But none of that really matters at all this week. It's completely different and I'm just excited to play with whoever my partner is, as is the rest of the team."

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