Rory McIlroy has backed Ian Poulter to play an important part in this year’s Ryder Cup despite the fact that the veteran faces months on the sidelines with a foot injury.
Poulter announced on Friday that he would undergo treatment on his arthritic right foot that would put him out of action for up to four months. The news means Poulter is unlikely to be fit for the 2016 Ryder Cup, which begins on September 30 in Hazeltine, Minnesota.
The 40-year old Englishman has an impressive record at the tournament, winning 13 points out of a possible 18 and was instrumental in the dramatic comeback win at Medinah in 2012.
Poor recent form though has seen him slip to number 85 in the world and he is without a win since 2012.
Commenting on the news, McIlroy said, “It’s obviously tough, I didn’t even know that he was struggling with his foot up until this point.
“I knew he hadn’t been playing his best, but it’s tough to miss four months when it’s a Ryder Cup year, and that’s the event that he wants to play in more than anything else.”
The world number three suggested that Poulter’s injury had made things easier for Europe Captain Darren Clarke.
“In a way, it makes Darren’s life a little bit easier,” added McIlroy, who said that Poulter could still play a big role from the sidelines as an assistant captain. “He’s been such a stalwart for us over the last few Ryder Cups, that it would be weird not to have him there.
“He’s always good fun and good to be around in the team room and the locker room. If he couldn’t be there playing, I’d love to see him there as a vice captain.”