As bad as it looks for Paul Azinger, things may not be quite so peachy in the Euro team room after Nick Dougherty voiced what appears to be the prevailing mood on the European Tour: Ian Poulter is playing the Deutsche Bank this week because he knows he's getting one of Faldo's two Captain's picks. James Corrigan reports:
Nick Dougherty was brave enough to articulate what most were thinking here on the range yesterday as the news circulated of Ian Poulter's late withdrawal from this week's Johnnie Walker Championship. "All I can think of is that he's been given the nod," said Dougherty. And so the great Ryder Cup conspiracy theory gathered momentum. True or not true it has given the build-up to Nick Faldo's wildcards announcement on Sunday night a fascinating edge.
The golfing world has only come up with two answers: first, Poulter has raised the white flag; and second, Poulter knows something the rest don't. Many here have already widely agreed that the flamboyant Englishman, the golfing street-fighter, is as likely to raise a white flag as he is to start wearing beige and, to them, that leaves only one explanation. And it is one that could just land Faldo in the middle of a storm when he eventually turns up at Gleneagles on Sunday lunchtime.
Not that Dougherty is ready to lambast the six-time major champion. Indeed, Faldo is his mentor. The young Liverpudlian was merely saying what he, and others such as Oliver Wilson – the player currently in the last qualifying spot – take to be the logical justification for Poulter's baffling actions.
"When I saw Ian's name down, I was impressed he was coming back," said Dougherty, who is himself in with a squeak of taking Wilson's place should he finish in the top two this week. "I've always thought Ian made his plans depending on his conversations with Nick."Meanwhile it seems Azinger has settled on two of his picks, according to Tim Rosaforte at GolfDigest.com's Local Knowledge blog. And if you really want to know who might be picked, Steve Elling polls the writers and comes up with this tally.