Steve Stricker admits he is the latest US Ryder Cup captain with no idea how to “contain” European talisman Ian Poulter.
Poulter has been a central figure in the contest ever since winning four points in a losing cause on his second appearance in 2008 at Valhalla, where he beat Stricker 3 and 2 in the Sunday singles.
The 45-year-old Englishman also won four points as he inspired the ‘Miracle at Medinah’ in 2012 and was given a wild card by European captain Padraig Harrington for this week’s contest at Whistling Straits despite being without a win since April 2018.
“We just don’t know how to contain him, I guess,” Stricker admitted on the eve of the 43rd Ryder Cup in his home state of Wisconsin.
“We’ve had a difficult time. I played him in a singles match back at Valhalla and lost to him. He’s a tough competitor, and this (competition) brings out the very best in him.
“He seems to make some very crucial putts, hit crucial shots when he needs to, and then just rises to the occasion. It seems like he plays better at the Ryder Cup than he does at any other PGA Tour event throughout the year. He just elevates his game to another level.
“He’s kind of the backbone of that team at times. He’d be a good guy that if we could figure out, and hopefully we can this year, to give him a couple (of) losses for a change. But it’s tough to do.”
The pairings for the opening foursomes matches were set to be revealed during the opening ceremony on Thursday evening, but Stricker said he had already told his players who would be involved.
“Yeah, we have that down,” the 54-year-old said. “We went over this on Monday. I wanted the guys to know what the plan was for Friday on Monday so we can prepare that way.
“I think that’s something that in previous teams that I’ve learned, the communication part, getting guys to understand their position and their roles, so we’ve taken a lot of time and energy in trying to talk to these guys and define both their roles and tell them what we expect from them and what they expect from us.”