Ian Poulter gives Europe hope at Ryder Cup

Team Europe golfer Ian Poulter (left) hugs teammate Rory McIlroy on the 18th green after winning...

Team Europe golfer Ian Poulter (left) hugs teammate Rory McIlroy on the 18th green after winning their match match during the afternoon four-ball round during the Ryder Cup at the Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Ill., Sept. 29, 2012. (JIM YOUNG/Reuters)

TIM McKAY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:08 PM ET

CHICAGO - The sun was setting on the Europeans at the Ryder Cup on Saturday, but Ian Poulter gave his team a glimmer of hope.

With darkness falling on the Medinah Country Club, Europe's bright light was just getting started. Poulter reeled off five consecutive birdies that brought he and playing partner Rory McIlroy back from 2-down in their match after 12 holes to a 1-up victory capped by a brilliant 10-foot putt on the 18th hole.

Not only was it a big boost for the Europeans' morale, who held off a hard-charging Tiger Woods in the previous match, but it secured a second point in the afternoon session and put them within four points of the Americans heading into Sunday singles. Four points is the biggest margin ever made up on a Sunday at the Ryder Cup, and while it looks bleak, Poulter has given the Euros a shot.

"That was huge," European captain Jose Maria Olazabal said after Poulter, his only undefeated player, ran his career Ryder Cup record to a superb 11-3.

"It gives us a chance. (Coming back from 10-6) has been done before, and, well, (Sunday) is going to be a big day."

Needing birdie to avoid a halve with the Americans in the match after Jason Dufner made his birdie putt on 18, Poulter stalked his putt in the failing light and pumped both fists as he nailed it. He was swarmed by teammates after making the big putt.

"I had me mates right there behind me, I wasn't going to miss it for them," he said.

It was the fitting end to a dream stretch.

"We needed to get something going," Poulter said of his late-match run, "I mean, it was very flat at the back there today and we was down and it was really hard. I mean, (Dufner and Zach Johnson) kept putting it in play and making it difficult for us to get back at them."

McIlroy actually sparked the Euro pair's rally with a nice birdie on 13 and then got out of the way for his partner.

"It was an incredible finish to what was looking like a very mundane day," Poulter said. "I kept saying to Rory, we just need something, he was saying to me, we just need something, and he hit a fantastic iron into 13 and that was what we needed to spark it..."

That's when Poulter — who is making Olazabal look like a genius for taking the Englishman as a captain's pick — put the hammer down.

"We had to make birdies and, wow, I mean, five in a row, it was awesome," he said, as if having just snapped out of a trance to realize what he had done. "I mean, I've got the world No. 1 by my side backing me up and it allows me to go ahead and hit some golf shots."

McIlroy, however, deferred praise to his partner.

"It was The Poults Show from (14) on in and it was a joy to watch " he said. "When Poults get that look in his eyes, especially the week of the Ryder Cup, it's amazing."

What's bigger, though, is that Poulter's look has given his team a whole new look going into Sunday as well.

"You know what, it's pretty fun, this Ryder Cup," Poulter said.

tim.mckay@sunmedia.ca


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