Poulter in major contention – again
Ian Poulter’s playing well at a major again. And this time, it
could help in his bid to make the European Ryder Cup team.
Poulter shot a 1-under 71 in the PGA Championship on Friday and
was a stroke behind leaders Tiger Woods, Carl Pettersson and Vijay
Singh after two rounds at The Ocean Course.
European captain Jose Maria Olazabal said he’d keep an eye on
Poulter at the PGA Championship, leading up to the Spaniard’s two
picks in September. Poulter made sure all Olazabal had to do was
look near the leaders. It’s been that way at most majors this
Poulter finished seventh at the Masters and, after tying for
41st at the U.S. Open, had another top 10 at the British Open in
tying for ninth.
”It’s enjoyable when you’re at the top of the leaderboard as
opposed to being down the bottom or even fighting to make the
cut,” Poulter said. ”I mean, you’re in contention, then it’s fun
in a sick way, I guess.”
Anyone who played The Ocean Course in Friday’s conditions knew
what Poulter meant.
There were gusts of 30 mph blowing in off the Atlantic Ocean and
the scoring average of 78.11 was the highest ever since the PGA
Championship switched from match play to stroke play.
But there was the Englishman, breezily hitting fairways and
greens – and avoiding the problems certain to come on Pete Dye’s
layout when you’re off target.
”The golf shots this course asks you to hit time and time and
time and time again, you really have to hit phenomenal golf
shots,” Poulter said. ”The room for error is so tiny, and when
you get it wrong, you can 15 feet below the level of the green in a
bad lie, in a wasteland bunker with not much of a shot.”
That hasn’t happened much for Poulter at the majors this year.
He made a bit of a charge on the final day of the Masters before
fading to a 5 under – five strokes out of the playoff between
champion Bubba Watson and runner-up Louis Oosthuizen.
Poulter played solidly again at Royal Lytham & St. Annes
last month and his even-par 280 gave him a top 10.
He opened play Thursday with a 70, four shots behind leader
Pettersson. Poulter moved up in the second round because most other
competitors couldn’t handle the gusting winds.
Poulter stumbled with back-to-back bogeys on the fifth and sixth
holes, but regained his footing with a birdie on No. 9. He moved to
4-under with a birdie on the 16th and looked as if he’d head into
the locker room with a share of first until his bobble on the 18th
”It was a long day,” he said.
He might have a few more long, pressure packed days to play at
the end of September when Europe tries to retain the Ryder Cup at
Medinah Country Club.
Olazabal was asked about Poulter’s chances since he stands 20th
on the European Ryder Cup points standings, well back from where he
needs to be to automatically qualify.
Olazabal cited Poulter’s gritty, winning style in match play –
Poulter had a 3-1 match record in Europe’s win at Celtic Manor two
years ago – and said the Englishman was close to being at top
”He’s not all that far away,” Olazabal said. ”He’s one of the
guys that has the best chance of making the team.”
That’s for another day. Right now, Poulter’s concerned with
saving enough energy to make it through two more rounds roughly six
hours long with winds potentially as strong as they played in
”There’s nothing you can do about it,” he said. ”I would like
to find anybody that can get around this golf course in under six
hours in the wind. It’s brutal. I mean, it’s absolutely