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Ian Poulter is many things to many people—Ryder Cup monster, tartan-wearing dandy, up-by-the-bootstraps success story, free-spending apostle of conspicuous consumption, and troll-baiting Twitter star, to name just a few. Poulter, 37, is also a doting father of four who has been with the same woman going back 18 years. On a recent weekday, the former pro shop assistant from Milton Keynes, England, let SI follow him during a typically action-packed day in his adopted hometown of Orlando. Along the way Poulter revealed the passions, insecurities and grand ambitions that make him one of golf's most compelling characters.
After hitting the snooze button once—but only once—Poulter reaches for his phone, a morning ritual. His wife, Katie, rouses Aimee-Leigh, 11, and Luke, 8, while Lily-Mai, 4, and Joshua, 18 months, sleep peacefully. Meanwhile, their dad lies in bed checking his Twitter feed, which reaches 1.48 million followers. "It's an addiction," he says. "I need to stop. I can't help it; I read every single reply. Ninety-nine percent of them are positive. Actually, more than that. But there are low-life scum out there who love to mouth off. They're jealous, sad, waste-of-timers. They have no drive in life to better themselves, they just want to tear down people who are successful. To be honest, I feel sorry for them. But I'm not putting up with their bulls---." He resolves to take a two-week break from Twitter.
Barefoot, in black gym shorts and a black T-shirt, Poulter pads into the kitchen, where Katie is serving the kids pancakes. He fixes himself a double espresso. Ian used to drink eight or nine Diet Cokes a day, but six weeks ago he quit cold turkey. He opens his laptop and surfs the website of the Daily Mail to keep abreast of what's happening back home.
Poulter brews another espresso. "There are so many chemicals in Diet Coke," he says. "This has to be a healthier way to get caffeine. Right?"
The nanny arrives to help with the little ones as Katie is whisking the two older kids off to school. Luke wears white pants and a tucked-in white polo, his otherwise vanilla outfit enlivened by a snakeskin belt with an oversized buckle in the design of the English flag.
Poulter's manager, R.J. Nemer, who flew in the night before from Cleveland, also arrives. He and his prized client belly up to a round table in the kitchen. It is quickly littered with three laptops, two tablets and three smartphones; no wonder the removable leaf in the middle of the table reveals a half dozen electrical plugs for charging all the devices.