In a fleeting move to preserve his 2016 Ryder Cup prospects, Ian Poulter has rushed across the world to play the Hong Kong Open Oct. 22-25.
Poulter fell out of the top 50 in the world golf ranking, meaning he would not automatically qualify for the WGC-HSBC Champions Nov. 5-8 at Sheshan International in Shanghai. Poulter has currently played nine European Tour events in 2015 but needs to play at least 13 to retain a European Tour card, mandatory criteria for Ryder Cup consideration.
After the Hong Kong Open is the European Tour's four-event Final Series. Currently ranked 50th in the Race to Dubai, Poulter is not guaranteed to get into all four events in the series and thus likely needs to both qualify for and play well in the WGC-HSBC Champions.
So now, the 39-year-old Englishman will play in Hong Kong this weekend, a 19-hour trip from Florida. According to a report from James Corrigan for The Telegraph, Poulter’s late entry in the event came via an unlikely source: an American golfer.
Former PGA Champion Rich Beem, now a broadcaster at Sky Sports, backed out of the Hong Kong event so Poulter could tee it up.
Many American golf fans questioned Beem’s decision on Twitter, but can you blame him? He has a free dinner coming his way.
Thanks to @beemerpga for giving up his invitation to allow me to play in Hong Kong. Where would you like me to take you for dinner.— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) October 20, 2015
Poulter is a lucky man, especially since his passport arrived just a few hours before his flight took off. He will tee off Thursday without playing a practice round at Hong Kong Golf Club.
That's what you call cutting it fine, passports arrived 7.15am, taking off at 9am to make flight to Hong Kong. pic.twitter.com/JmeVITEvLn— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) October 20, 2015
Poulter will not only have to play the Hong Kong Open, but he will also have to play reasonably well in the event. According to the Nosferatu Twitter account, which frequently analyzes the Official World Golf Rankings, Poulter will need a top 20 finish to crack the top 50.