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ian poulter

Ian Poulter: I’ve had vile abuse for putting family first in LIV Golf move

The Ryder Cup legend has revealed the grim extent of the criticism he has had since joining the rival tour and how it led to health issues
 

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.”

LIV Golf

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.

Matt Chivers

Matt Chivers

Now on the wrong side of 25, Matt has been playing golf since the age of 13 and was largely inspired to take up the game by countless family members who played golf during his childhood.

Matt is a member at Royal Cinque Ports in Deal playing off a 5 handicap, just a pitching wedge away from his hometown of Dover where he went to school and grew up. He has previously been a member at Etchinghill and Walmer and Kingsdown in Kent.

Having studied history at the University of Liverpool, Matt went on to pass his NCTJ Exams in Manchester a year later to fulfil his lifelong ambition of becoming a journalist. He picked up work experience along the way at places such as the Racing Post, the Independent, Sportsbeat and the Lancashire Evening Post.

Matt joined NCG in February 2023 and is the website’s main source of tour news, features and opinion. He has reported live from events such as The Open, the Ryder Cup and The Players Championship, having also interviewed and spoken to the likes of Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood, Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Henrik Stenson, to name just a few.

Consuming tour golf on what is a 24/7 basis, you can come to Matt for informed views on the game and the latest updates on the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour and LIV Golf.

What’s in Matt’s bag: Cobra LTDx LS driver, Cobra LTDx 3-wood, TaylorMade P7MC irons, Ping Glide 4.0 wedges, Odyssey putter.

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