Ian Poulter says playing Melbourne’s sand belt lured him to the World Cup of Golf.Ian Poulter was so eager to contest a World Cup of Golf on Melbourne’s iconic sand belt that he begged Tyrrell Hatton to pick him as his England teammate months ago.
Now the Ryder Cup great and countryman Hatton loom as the biggest threat to the favourites, n duo Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith, when the two-man teams event starts at Metropolitan Golf Club on Thursday.
The World Cup is an unofficial US PGA Tour event with a $US7 million purse which has 28 teams contesting two rounds of four-ball (best ball) and two rounds of foursomes (alternate shot) over four days.
A avid fan of the world-renowned sand belt, which includes Royal Melbourne and Kingston Heath, Poulter made his pitch to world No.25 Hatton – who made the choice as best-ranked available player – earlier this year.
“We had a chat at one of the events and I managed to persuade him that it would be a good choice to pick me,” Poulter said.
“(The sand belt) is pretty big lure; I love it down here and I knew I wanted to make the team.”
Globetrotting Poulter’s hunger to play at Metropolitan immediately after last week’s European Tour finale in Dubai comes in stark contrast to golf’s biggest stars, with no player in the top 20 on the world rankings teeing it up.
“Unless you’ve travelled to the sand belt, you really haven’t experienced golf,” added Poulter.
The Englishman won the now-defunct n Masters in 2011 at nearby Victoria Golf Club, and has also played the World Cup five times previously for England.
“I’ve never won the World Cup and I would like to,” Poulter said.
“If Tyrrell and I can pick up a trophy it would be pretty special.”
But England face stiff competition from many teams, including defending champions Denmark, who feature in-form Thorbjorn Olesen and veteran Soren Kjeldsen.
With Kjeldsen’s accuracy and Olesen’s power, the Danes are confident they have the magic formula to go back-to-back on the sand belt, having won at Kingston Heath in 2016.
“We’re quite opposite; most of the time I put it in the fairway,” Kjeldsen said.
“I’ve got a solid game, whereas Thorbjorn has a flashy game; he amazing stuff now and again.”
Added Olesen: “Yeah, we’re one of the better teams because we have a lot of confidence and we’ve proven we can do it,” he said.
World No.21 Leishman and Smith are installed as betting favourites to claim a sixth Cup title for .
The pair are determined to win and boost popularity for the struggling event which last won in 2013 – when Jason Day and Adam Scott combined at Royal Melbourne.
“I think we’ve got a lot of incentive to play well this week for ourselves, our families and the n fans,” Leishman said.
“I really want to play well and put some runs on the board and hopefully it will be very nice on Sunday night to have (Smith) to celebrate with.”