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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 October 2018

Ian Poulter aims to rekindle past glories and fire Europe to Ryder Cup success

Englishman is back in the team after missing out on defeat to US two years ago through injury

Europe's Ryder Cup talisman Ian Poulter is relishing his return to the event at Le Golf National.

The 42-year-old Englishman is back in the team after missing the defeat at Hazeltine last time out but is raring to go in France.

"I'm rekindling the thoughts of all the previous times I've played and I'm pretty excited," he said.

"Last night [Monday] was great to get with the guys; it was a relaxed evening and we had some fun. It's always a special week from a team perspective."

Injury sidelined Poulter in America two years ago and although he was included as a vice-captain for Darren Clarke's team it was not the same.

His long absence from the game saw his world ranking plummet and Poulter had to work hard to resurrect his form.

"I guess when you are at the low of lows, and that wasn't that long ago, there's a little voice in the back of your head that kind of says 'You might not get back to as good as you was'," he said.

"It was difficult being vice-captain last time knowing how I'd helped the team in the past.

"This time around I felt I really wanted to make the team and felt if I worked hard, restructured things, I could definitely make this Ryder Cup team - which I have."

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Poulter said he has been inspired by Tiger Woods' remarkable comeback from back fusion surgery, with the 14-time major winner registering his first win in five years at the Tour Championship on Sunday.

"There were definitely question marks when I was struggling a bit and I looked to see where he has been, it is quite inspirational to see how good he's come back," Poulter said.

"For the Ryder Cup it is great and it is good to have Tiger Woods playing the type of golf he is playing because he makes the Ryder Cup even more special."

Poulter's record in the Ryder Cup - delivering 13 points over five previous events - earned him the nickname "the Postman" and means he is the man the United States team want to target.

"I take it as a huge compliment," Poulter said.

"You can be friends week in, week out, but when it comes to the Ryder Cup there is something there which makes you want to win."

Captain Thomas Bjorn said not too much should be read into his Tuesday's practice groups.

Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson and FedEx Cup winner Justin Rose made up the first group alongside Alex Noren; Rory McIlroy, Paul Casey, Thorbjorn Olesen and Jon Rahm were in group two, while Fleetwood, Molinari, Hatton and Poulter were in group three.

"Not too much to be honest, I don't think. Today is just about getting everyone out there," said Bjorn.

"It doesn't necessarily mean they will be paired together.

"I don't feel like I've given anything away in what is going on on the golf course today.

"They are all out there and getting their bearings and getting to know what the golf course is like this week. Today is a very relaxed day."

Tiger Woods takes part in a practice round at Le Golf National. Reuters
Tiger Woods takes part in a practice round at Le Golf National. Reuters

United States captain Jim Furyk also said he had made decisions on a number of his pairings for this week and some of Tuesday's practice groups contained his match-ups - although he would not divulge which ones.

Tour Championship winner Woods, Bryson DeChambeau, Mickelson and Masters champion Patrick Reed made up the first group, with world No 1 Dustin Johnson alongside Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth next out.

Woods and DeChambeau is a possible pairing, with good friends Thomas and Spieth almost certain to play together at some point, despite the success Spieth and Reed have enjoyed in the last two contests.

The final group contained Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson, Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau.

"They are very aware of who they are playing with this week," added Furyk.

"You can look at it from a personality standpoint, a technical or data standpoint but that changes on different courses.

"This course is different to Hazeltine so you may want to change the type of players you play with each other."