Poulter puts cup faith in Faldo

The Open runner-up withdraws at Gleneagles to play at FedEx, hoping on wild card. 'It has been a difficult decision.'

Ian Poulter withdrew from the Johnnie Walker Championship and now hoes for a Ryder Cup wild card from the captain Nick Faldo.
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LONDON // Ian Poulter was a shock withdrawal from this week's Johnnie Walker Championship on Monday night, leaving his Ryder Cup fate in the hands of captain Nick Faldo. The Open runner-up still had a chance to qualify automatically with a top-five finish at Gleneagles in the final counting event, but has decided instead to stay in America and compete in the FedEx Cup play-offs.

Poulter's only way to a second cap now is to be handed one of Faldo's two wild cards, but yesterday's KLM Open winner Darren Clarke, Paul Casey and Colin Montgomerie are also looking for that route into the team. "It has been an extremely difficult decision to take given my desire to represent Europe again in defending the Ryder Cup in the United States," said Poulter. "But the fact that Boston this week is my only opportunity to qualify for the final two play-off events as well as being my final opportunity to play my 15 events on the US PGA Tour conflicts with my ambition to play Gleneagles and earn my spot in the team.

"I have called Nick Faldo and told him of my decision and hope that my performance so far this year will earn one of his two wild-card picks. "The captain's picks are a nightmare and not a position I would have wanted, but we do know that Nick will do the right thing and I will be playing as hard as I can this week to add to my year and hopefully earn one." The trouble for Poulter is that the Deutsche Bank Championship runs from Friday to Monday, and Faldo's two wild cards are being announced on Sunday night.

The impact of his move is that six players rather than seven are now competing for the last three automatic spots on the line-up for Valhalla next month. Justin Rose, Soren Hansen and Oliver Wilson are the three players in positions eight, nine and 10 at present, but Martin Kaymer, Ross Fisher and Nick Dougherty are still able to catch them. To have a chance of making the side Dougherty has to finish second, Fisher third and Kaymer 28th. Poulter's decision is certainly a big boost for his close friend Rose.

Rose will only miss out if three players go past him and to be one of the three, Dougherty has to win; Fisher must come first or second, Kaymer in the top five, Wilson in the top seven and Hansen in the top 28. What Faldo's thinking remains to be seen, but Poulter has failed to do what Padraig Harrington thought he would. It is only a month ago that Harrington stated he wanted Montgomerie as his Ryder Cup partner again and that he thought it was "inevitable" Poulter would play his way onto the team.

Harrington said of Poulter's challenge to him at Royal Birkdale: "He's shown he is a big-time player and that's the type you want in the Ryder Cup." * PA Sport