By Ian Ransom
MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Representing England at a team event is sure to inflame the passions of Tyrrell Hatton but the 27-year-old firebrand is confident he can keep his temper in check at the World Cup of Golf with the help of Ian Poulter.
Nearly two months after helping Europe thrash the United States in the Ryder Cup, Hatton and Poulter have teamed up again in Melbourne and are a strong chance to claim England’s first World Cup since Paul Casey and Luke Donald in Spain in 2004.
While Poulter can be a fiery competitor, world number 25 Hatton is on another level with his on-course histrionics generating a mix of delight and consternation from golf fans and pundits.
But the man who once dubbed himself “Headcase Hatton” was confident his good relationship with Poulter would help him keep a lid on his emotions.
“Yeah, I told Ian to make sure he brings his earplugs this week,” Hatton joked at a pre-tournament media conference on Wednesday.
“Obviously I am fiery and I always give it my best. I think in a team situation you’re always trying maybe a little bit harder to make sure you hit better shots.
“I find that this format will be a little bit more relaxing than playing just your own ball,” the three-times European Tour winner added.
“Obviously having Ian there, we get on well, so we’ll be able to kind of have a chat in between shots depending — well, depends on how bad the shot I’ve just hit is.
“But no, it will be fine, team events are no problem and I can keep my head on if I need to.”
As the highest ranked Englishman to commit to the tournament, Hatton said it was a “no-brainer” to pick as his partner 42-year-old Poulter, who loves team events and has form on the golf courses of Melbourne’s famed Sandbelt.
Poulter won the now defunct Australian Masters at the nearby Victoria Golf Club in 2011 and has competed at the World Cup of Golf on five previous occasions without quite being able to add England’s two titles.
His most recent attempt came in 2011 when he and Justin Rose fell two shots short of the victorious United States duo of Matt Kuchar and Gary Woodland.
“So we had a chat and I managed to persuade him that it would be a good choice to pick me,” Poulter said with a smile.
“So it turned out pretty good. Well, I’ll let you know Sunday night.”