The Poulter plot takes new twist

There has been plenty of extra ammunition in Valhalla at the start of Ryder Cup week for the conspiracy theories still doing the rounds in America about Ian Poulter's wild card selection.

It has been denied by all sides that Poulter knew he would be one of Nick Faldo's two wild card picks before causing controversy by opting to play in America rather than in the final European Tour event at Gleneagles, culminating in the European Ryder Cup team announcement on August 31.

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Ian Poulter

Hint: Ian Poulter

Yet the conspiracy theorists are pointing to a website story from the U.S. publication Golf Magazine in July that featured an interview with captains Paul Azinger and Faldo in which the latter - when asked whom he thought might sink the winning putt in Kentucky - plumped for Poulter.


And when Azinger pointed out that Poulter was not in the European team via the money list, Faldo said confidently: 'He will be.'

Added to that is Faldo's choice - long before the wild card selection - of celebrity disc jockey DJ Spoony to be responsible for the music in the team room. Spoony's best friend among the European golfers just happens to be Poulter.

Ben Curtis's English caddie, Andy Sutton, who has carried the American's bag since he won The Open in 2003, will not be in Kentucky this week.

He has asked for a holiday instead of working for the United States because he is a patriotic Englishman.

Dave Musgrove did the same thing in 1997, opting out of the Valderrama contest when he was employed by Lee Janzen. Nick Faldo is undoubtedly patriotic but his control freak captaincy extends to him not even trusting anyone to drive his golf buggy.

At least his general knowledge quiz for the team and partners on the flight to Louisville didn't have Faldo as one of the answers.

The prestigious gig of performing at the Ryder Cup gala dinner tomorrow - done in the past by Celine Dion and Van Morrison - has gone to reality show winner Carrie Underwood who has sold 11 million records since her American Idol success.

She will hope for better reviews than those for X Factor star Leona Lewis after her nervy performance in the 2012 handover in the Beijing closing ceremony.

Europe will start with a considerable handicap in the battle of the golf Wags - always a major sub-plot of the Ryder Cup - with three of the team travelling to Valhalla on their own.

Ian Poulter's wife Katie is pregnant, while Graeme McDowell and Sergio Garcia do not have partners at the moment.

BBC friction in the air

Both of Radio 5 Live's star presenters, John Inverdale and Mark Pougatch, will be far too professional to show signs of personal tension during the Ryder Cup coverage.

But it is the talk of the station that Pougatch doesn't like playing second fiddle when Inverdale returns from his TV work to front the big events. Inverdale will be lead presenter as he was in Beijing where Pougatch was relegated to the night shift.

The United States PGA media department have put their own spin on Europe having won the last three Ryder Cups.

A banner in the press conference room celebrates the history of the tournament and trumpets the fact that the U.S. have 24 wins to Europe's 10 since 1927.

The U.S. golfers, unlike Europe, are paid $200,000 for taking part, with the cash supposedly going to charities.

Yet the good causes are close to home in the cases of Ben Curtis, Phil Mickelson and Chad Campbell, who have allocated half their fees to their own foundations.

That is not as blatant as Mark O'Meara who, in 1999, donated $50,000 to his son's private school.

The captain's gift to players on both teams is a £6,000 Rolex watch.

It is the latest on the market and has additional engraving marking Ryder Cup participation. Rolex sponsor the tournament, but both golf authorities have to pay extra for the watches.

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