By withdrawing from this week's European Tour event, the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, Ian Poulter can no longer earn an automatic spot on the European Ryder Cup team. If the Englishman, who is known for his flamboyant clothes and emotional play, is going to compete at Valhalla, it will now have to be as a captain's pick.
Had Poulter decided to play at Gleneagles, as he originally intended, he might have garnered enough European Ryder Cup points to make the team. But Poulter has played in only 14 PGA Tour events this season. To maintain his PGA Tour card and full playing privileges in the United States, he has to play in 15 events this season. In the end, he was forced to make a difficult decision — play in Europe and possibly qualify for the Ryder Cup or compete in the United States and keep his U.S. PGA Tour card for 2009.
"It has been an extremely difficult decision to take given my burning desire to represent Europe again in defending the Ryder Cup in the United States," he said on the European Tour's Web site. Poulter was on the 2004 team that won at Oakland Hills.
He continued by saying, "I have called Nick Faldo and told him of my decision, and hope that my performance so far this year will earn one of his two wild card picks."
The top five players on the European Tour's Ryder Cup World Points list, along with the top five players on the European Points list who have not already qualified, are all given a place on the team. Poulter, who was the runner-up at this year's British Open, is currently 11th on the European points list and seventh on the world list.
With only one week remaining to earn points, here are the 10 players who would currently earn automatic selection to the European team:
1. Padraig Harrington 2. Sergio Garcia3. Lee Westwood4. Henrik Stenson5. Robert Karlsson6. Miguel Angel Jimenez7. Graeme McDowell8. Justin Rose9. Soren Hansen10. Oliver
Other players looking to impress Faldo and earn a captain's pick include Paul Casey, Darren Clarke, Martin Kaymer, Carl Petterson and Colin Montgomerie. (Photo by John Biever/SI)