• Needs to play this week after falling out of the world top 50
• Meant he would be ineligible for the WGC-HSBC Champions
Ian Poulter is making the 19-hour flight from Florida to play in the UBS Hong Kong Open in order to keep his hopes of featuring in the 2016 Ryder Cup alive.
The Englishman slipped out of the world top 50 this week, making him ineligible for the WGC-HSBC Champions in two weeks’ time, an event which would’ve fulfilled the minimum quota of 13 events to maintain his European Tour membership and Ryder Cup eligibility.
Wins for Andy Sullivan at the Portugal Masters and Emiliano Grillo at the Frys.com Open, as well as a strong finish from Charl Schwartzel in California, conspired to knock Poulter from sitting relatively comfortably at No.46 to No.51 in the world rankings, meaning that he needed to take action.
"I couldn’t have predicted falling out by that margin" - Ian Poulter
And the 39-year-old, whose last win came at the WGC-HSBC Champions back in 2012, had, of all nationalities, an American to thank for keeping his Ryder Cup hopes alive after Rich Beem unselfishly agreed to give up his invite so Poulter could play with entries to the tournament closed.
A statement from the European Tour read: “Ian Poulter approached the European Tour to see if there was any way he could be included in this week’s field. With entries of the tournament officially closed, the only option was through a tournament invitation.
“When approached and appraised of the situation by tour officials, Beem, who had already travelled from Texas to Hong Kong, generously agreed to step aside in order to let Poulter utilise that invitation and therefore fulfil his membership obligations.”
Ian Poulter was quick to thank Beem, who will now join the Sky Sports team for the duration of the event.
Posting on Instagram, he said: "I've taken a mad dash to get to Hong Kong. Thanks to Rich Beem who gave up his invite so I could play and be eligible for next year’s Ryder Cup. I fell out of the top 50 by 0.01 of a ranking point. I was planning on playing HSBC Champions event but couldn’t have predicted falling out by that margin.
"You could say poor play and poor planning" - Ian Poulter
“It would have had me playing 12 events not 13 that I needed. You could say poor play and poor planning. But thanks to Rich for giving me his spot. I arrive into Hong Kong on Wednesday night to get sleep and tee off at 12 on Thursday.
“Terry my caddy is on the beach on holiday so I will get a local caddy for the week. A mad 24 hours. Never dull in the Poulter saga. Time to make the climb up the rankings. Nothing but hard work.”
This instance is likely to raise further issues of 'player power' on the European Tour after Rory McIlroy was granted a spot in the Final Series of the Race to Dubai by chief executive Keith Pelley, despite not fulfilling the 13 required events.
Ian Poulter :: Hong Kong Open inclusion
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