Ian Poulter, center, celebrates The 2014 Ryder Cup victory with Europe team members at Gleneagles, Scotland. Credit: AP Photo, Peter Morrison

Englishman Ian Poulter could not play in the recent Ryder Cup, which was good for the victorious Americans, who never have found an answer for Poulter’s fiery brand of golf.

But Poulter will continue his comeback from a painful foot injury in the Sanderson Farms Championship next week at Country Club of Jackson, which is good for Mississippi golf fans.

Poulter was one of several commitments announced Wednesday by Mississippi’s lone PGA Tour tournament, along with 2006 U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilve and David Duval, the former No. 1 golfer in the world.

Rick Cleveland Credit: Melanie Thortis

Poulter has helped Europe to victory in four Ryder Cups. His overall record (12-3-1, 4-0-1 in singles matches) is among the best in Ryder Cup history. Seems like every time he had to make a crucial putt, he did.

What’s more, Poulter has been an emotional catalyst for the Europeans with his swashbuckling style. Perhaps his finest Ryder Cup moment came in 2012 at Medinah when he birdied all five holes down the stretch to help Rory McIlroy win a pivotal four-ball match over Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson. That was also the year he stood on the first tee at storied Medinah and encouraged the partisan crowd to cheer and jeer, even as he drove the ball off the first tee. “Bring it on,” he seemed to say.

And then he hit it down the middle and won.

Poulter served as a vice-captain for the Europeans in the most recent Ryder Cup, won by the Americans, at Hazeltine. The Europeans could have used some of clutch putting, instead.

Meanwhile, the Sanderson Farms Championship field is rounding into perhaps the best in the tournament’s 49-year history.

Other recent additions to the 132-player field are past champions Scott Stallings (2012) and Will MacKenzie (2008), joining major champions Angel Cabrera, Retief Goosen, Lucas Glover, and David Toms. The Pro-Am will be played next Wednesday, with the 72-hole tournament to follow Thursday through Sunday.


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Rick Cleveland, a native of Hattiesburg and resident of Jackson, has been Mississippi Today’s sports columnist since 2016. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi with a bachelor’s in journalism, Rick has worked for the Monroe (La.) News Star World, Jackson Daily News and Clarion Ledger. He was sports editor of Hattiesburg American, executive director of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. His work as a syndicated columnist and celebrated sports writer has appeared in numerous magazines, periodicals and newspapers.
Rick has been recognized 13 times as Mississippi Sports Writer of the Year, and is recipient of multiple awards and honors for his reporting and writing.