x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Under fire Poulter provides lone silver lining

Ian Poulter was delighted and relieved to be part of Europe's only winning combination in the eight opening-day battles.

Ian Poulter, who arrived at Valhalla under more pressure to justify his presence there than any of his 11 teammates, was delighted and relieved to be part of Europe's only winning combination in the eight opening-day battles. The Englishman, nominated as a wild card by the European captain Nick Faldo over the exclusion of stalwarts Colin Montgomerie and Darren Clarke, partnered his compatriot Justin Rose to a 4 & 2 verdict over Steve Stricker and Ben Curtis.

The new pairing - Rose is one of four European rookies - knew that if they did not come out on top in that fourball confrontation, there would be recriminations after the way they slipped from a strong position in the morning's foursomes encounter with Stewart Cink and Chad Campbell which they eventually lost on the final green. Poulter, who has never been afraid to sing his own praises, remains embarrassed over an ill-judged remark at the start of this year that he was the most serious threat to Tiger Woods' position. But he reflected positively on a rewarding experience on Friday.

"I feel I am playing well and I want that to continue," he said. "I took a couple of weeks off to prepare and I'm pleased to say that is paying off. It was nice to get a point back for the team and I'd like to keep this pairing going." His wish was granted when Faldo kept them for yesterday's foursomes in what turned out to be a rematch with Cink and Campbell. wjohnson@thenational.ae