McGinley hoping McIlroy can inspire Poulter to produce heroics

Paul McGinley has turned to Rory McIlroy to get beaten and bruised Ian Poulter back into Ryder Cup hero-mode after reuniting the pair for this morning’s fourballs session at Gleneagles.

Out of form Poulter was on the wrong end of a shock defeat alongside Scottish rookie Stephen Gallacher as American rookies Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed inflicted a 5&4 drubbing on the architect of the Miracle at Medinah two years ago. Having rested the Englishman from yesterday’s afternoon foursomes, when Europe fought back from a 2½ to 1½ morning deficit to lead 5-3 overnight, McGinley believes Poulter’s battered pride is best restored to its normal ebullience by sending him back into fourballs duty with world number one and four-time major winner McIlroy in the final match of the opening session on day two at 8:20am.

The Anglo-Irish pairing will face American duo Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker.

“He played the senior figure today with Stevie Gallacher and obviously it didn’t go well,” McGinley said. “Ian Poulter’s ego was really hurt today. It’s not often he gets beaten like that in a Ryder Cup match. And that hurt.

“I had a chat with him out on the golf course and I’m going to bring back him up and there’s no better way of doing that than by putting him on the shoulder of Rory McIlroy... I know he’ll respond to that.”

McGinley will open the morning fourballs by sending out the so-far unbeaten pair of Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson against Masters champion Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar at 7:35am.

The meat in the sandwich will see Jamie Donaldson and Lee Westwood drawn with Jim Furyk and Hunter Mahan followed by Thomas Bjorn and Martin Kaymer against Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth, McGinley once again choosing to omit Graeme McDowell and Victor Dubuisson from the better ball format alongside Gallacher and Sergio Garcia, who partnered McIlroy in yesterday’s halved foursomes match with Fowler and Walker. McDowell had closed the foursomes session with Dubuisson by ending Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson’s unbeaten partnership and had fully expected their double act to continue into the morning.

“All plans need flexibility, and communication is 100 per cent,” McGinley said. “Before I put in any names this afternoon, I had a number of upgrade options and I looked at them and I made a decision as to what way I wanted to go and why I wanted to do it based on where I see the big picture for the week. The first fellow I spoke to was Graeme, because I knew he would have liked to play tomorrow morning and I knew Victor would, as well, too. When I sat him down and explained why he wasn’t playing in the morning and he would be playing in the afternoon, and had a real adult discussion with him, he was 100 per cent on board.”

Having finished the foursomes yesterday evening with a 3.5 to 0.5 session victory, McGinley is bracing his players for an American backlash. “They’ll come at us strongly in the morning. We’re going to have to hold very firm, hold very strong.

“This Ryder Cup is far from over, far from us sailing off into the sunset, that ain’t going to happen. There’s a lot of fight in that American team and we’re going to have to play incredibly well again tomorrow.

“We’re going to have to be focused, we’re going to have to come out very strongly and go at it again tomorrow because Ryder Cups are not won easily.”

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