HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINA | Imagine Ian Poulter in a tartan jacket.
He wore purple tartan trousers Thursday when he shot 5-under-par 66 in the first round of the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links and he has a closet full of sartorial options going forward.
There is also the immediate concern of needing to earn $144,669 in his next two starts to regain his full status on the PGA Tour. Poulter is playing on a major medical extension after shutting down his season last May due to a foot injury.
“I’m not thinking about it, that’s how I’m handling it,” Poulter said. “I just want to go out and play golf. Thinking about it is obviously not going to help.
“If I try and win this golf tournament and hit good golf shots and connect to every single shot I play, then I would think I’m going to be good enough. So I have to do that. I have to clear my mind. I’ve got to put everything else away so I can concentrate on my golf.”
Should Poulter not earn the necessary money in his two remaining starts, he still will have conditional Tour status, which would limit his starts as he attempts to regain his status among the top 125 in FedEx Cup points.
Poulter, who ranked fifth in the world in 2010, arrived at the RBC Heritage ranked 210th. An arthritic joint in his right foot became so painful Poulter took the second half of 2016 off.
Harbour Town could be just what Poulter needs. It doesn’t demand a driver off each tee and rewards precision more than power.
“I like this type of golf,” Poulter said. “It’s fiddley, you can’t hit driver off every tee. Positional play. And sometimes the fairway is not good enough on some of these holes.”