European Ryder Cup icon Ian Poulter has revealed the abuse he received for joining LIV Golf drove him to eat irregularly and feel “awful.”
In an interview with the Telegraph, Poulter reflected on his controversial switch to the Saudi-financed league last summer and asserted family was at the centre of his decision.
He supposedly received tens of millions to join LIV, a hefty ballpark sum even for a golfer who’s earned more than $28 million in his career from PGA Tour events.
Poulter often posts videos and pictures on his social media platforms with his children. His son Luke plays golf for the Florida Gators and is showing signs of great promise.
The most high-profile LIV defectors have been regularly scrutinised since LIV’s first event last June in England, but it drove Poulter to physiological depths and habits he hadn’t experienced before.
“Those sarnies, covered in HP sauce, on a daily basis, were great, delicious, as was all the chocolate and everything,” Poulter said in Mayakoba, the host venue of LIV’s first event in the new season. “But I was feeling awful, slovenly, and it was plainly not a good situation.
“I would never admit that I was stress-eating, but who knows the way the mind works. I was getting ridiculous abuse and, in that sense, they were tough times.
“I don’t just think of my kids, but their kids and their kids and that is what I work for. People might have their objections. I’m not sure I get it, but fair enough. Yet I don’t understand why they take it so far.
“[It’s] pretty vile, not necessary, and I think that, in many respects, the media are to blame for the extent of this abuse.”
Poulter has absorbed a fair bit of abuse during his career but it goes without saying that abuse for moving to the LIV Golf League, no matter anyone’s view about the source of its funding, is unacceptable.
Arguably the main source of hostility in the 47-year-old’s career has been the Ryder Cup, but Poulter used this as fuel to perform out of his skin time and time again for Team Europe.
The Postman has represented Europe seven times as a player with a record of 15-8-2. He is yet to lose in the singles, but due to his LIV transfer, this accolade is set to remain unchanged.
His near-complete shutout from the major championships and Official World Golf Ranking events in 2023 will make it virtually impossible for him to make Luke Donald’s side unless his former teammate chose him as a captain’s pick.
The presence of LIV Golf players at the historic match play event versus America could upset the harmony of the dressing room, a factor Donald and his US counterpart Zach Johnson must consider before selecting their 12-man squads.
Poulter was fancied to captain Europe in 2025, but he has likely kissed goodbye to his chances of being involved in the tournament again, a tournament he has become synonymous with.
He has admitted he would be devastated at missing out on leading his beloved Europe into battle, but much like the plight of Henrik Stenson and Graeme McDowell’s situation, that devastation will likely become reality.
“Do I have to prove that I care? In those eight weeks [of the Ryder Cups I played] I have given everything I’ve got,” Poulter added. “The pictures show it. Blood, sweat, and tears, I wasn’t acting.
“I was a wreck for a few weeks after each one of those matches. I loved every second, but now I’m in a situation where I feel unwelcome. Just because I put my family first? I’ve struggled to cope with that, although the reaction to Netflix has helped a lot.
“After the first seven or eight months of having the same opinion shouted at me, I was worried how it would be received, but I have been taken aback by the response.
“I mean, scrolling through the messages, since it was released 10 days ago, it’s been one positive thing after another. The opposite of what I’ve become used to.
“I’ve had loads saying, ‘please accept an apology – I’ve said things to you that I shouldn’t and have a new respect level. Anyone would do that for their family’. I hope this has been a turning point. I know I’ve been making a fresh start.”
Like Dustin Johnson made clear in the new PGA Tour Netflix documentary Full Swing, Poulter made a “business decision” but also put his family first and chose the lucrative contract offer that Greg Norman put on the table.
The 12-time DP World Tour winner featured prominently in Full Swing where he discussed his career in depth, and he was pleasantly surprised with the feedback he got from golf fans after its release on February 15.
By also featuring the likes of Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka, the new docuseries shows viewpoints from both sides of the professional golf fence.
Do the Ryder Cup captains actually matter?