PGA Tour

Poulter admits he 'got it wrong'

2015-10-22 08:07
Ian Poulter (File)

Hong Kong - A grateful Ian Poulter was due to tee off at the Hong Kong Open Thursday after completing a last-minute dash to take part in the tournament and save his hopes of playing in the 2016 Ryder Cup.

The Englishman took the place of former major winner Rich Beem, who was asked to drop out of the event after it emerged Poulter had been pushed out of the world top 50 and was in danger of losing his European Tour membership.

Any player wishing to play for Europe in the Ryder Cup must retain European Tour membership and so European Tour officials asked Beem to step aside.

Poulter said he only realised the problem on Monday morning, and by Tuesday he was on a plane to Asia.

After landing in Hong Kong from the United States on Wednesday, Poulter admitted he had "got this one wrong" and expressed his gratitude to the American.

"I feel very sorry for Rich to have been put in this situation. He has been very gracious and it is a lovely gesture," said the 39-year-old, who played a key role in Europe's come-from-behind 2012 Ryder Cup triumph at Medinah.

Poulter dropped to number 51 after Andy Sullivan and Emiliano Grillo both won tournaments last week, meaning he was ineligible for the WGC-HSBC Champions event in Shanghai in China and would have fallen one short of competing in the necessary 13 events on the "Race to Dubai" to retain his European Tour membership.

He added: "It's unbelievably generous of him (Beem) to say 'that's fine'. I am so grateful that he has given me the opportunity to get my numbers in."

Poulter has had an uneven season, which has seen his world rankings plummet.

But he admitted he was caught unawares and had to take dramatic action to save his season. "To drop that far in the World Rankings was not expected," he said.

"Obviously this wouldn't have happened if I had played better, but even still, dropping the way I did in the last couple of weeks was drastic. It was an incredible drop."

Poulter, who has not ended the year out of the top 50 since 2005, admitted the mix-up was down to "bad play and poor management".

He added: "It's really bizarre. It's put everyone in a bad position and I am just really grateful to everyone for helping me out."

The situation was complicated even further by the fact he had sent both his passports off for mainland China visas so he could play in the WGC-HSBC Champions and the BMW Masters in Shanghai.

"I didn't realise until I woke up on Monday morning," he said. "I woke up and saw the World Rankings and realised the situation straight away." His passports were returned with just hours to spare on Tuesday.

"They arrived at 07:15 on Tuesday and I took off at 09 00. If they had arrived at midday I was done because I couldn't have physically made the flight in time and I would have missed the start of the tournament."

The mad dash to Hong Kong meant he has had previous little time to prepare for the US$2 million event, the final tournament of the regular European 2015 tour season.

"It's not been great preparation - I don't have a caddie, I don't have a yardage book, I don't know how the course is playing or how the greens are running or anything. I have no idea. So it will be a bit of a case of suck it and see tomorrow and see how we go."

Read more on:    hong kong open  |  ian poulter  |  golf

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