Team Europe’s incredible comeback at the 2012 Ryder Cup, in part led by Ian Poulter during Saturday afternoon’s four-ball matches, is one for the ages — they don’t call it the Miracle at Medinah for nothing.
But aside from the skills of his teammates — playing partner Rory McIlroy and penultimate Saturday pairing Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald, who helped erase the 10-4 deficit in front of a stunned American crowd — Poulter credits another American with the push: NBA superstar and golf lover Michael Jordan.
In an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Alan Shipnuck for the GOLF.com podcast, Poulter recalls a near run-in with U.S. team groupie Jordan, which helped to spur him on. Jordan made a habit of following the teams and hanging out on the teeboxes, which Poulter acknowledged as intimidating.
“I am a Michael Jordan fan, I love basketball, so MJ being there was giving me a buzz,” Poulter said. “Then as that match was closing out, he was becoming more prominent and his position of where he was standing was becoming more and more invasive, shall I say. The closest he got was when he kinda gave me a little jab in the chest going from the 16th green after I’ve holed the 25-footer downhill left to right. I’m walking off the green and I just see him. He’s right in my walkway as I walk to the 17th tee. And he kind of just wags his finger and kinda shakes his head as if to say, ‘You son of a…how dare you hole that putt?’ And as I was walking past him, he gives me a little jab, and I’m saying to myself, ‘You know, you’re going to have to hit me harder than that.'”
“I was trying to stick it to everyone, but it was like, how dare he be in my space, how dare he be in my zone, how dare he be on my court, giving me s—? So I’m like, ‘Ok, if that’s how you want to play it, this is what you’re gonna get.'”
The rest, of course, is history: Poulter and McIlroy went on to birdie the 17th and 18th holes to win the match against Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson 1 up, with Europe trailing by four heading into Sunday singles matches.
You can hear more about that and more from the entertaining Englishman below.