It would be ironic if Ian Poulter were to win the Players because a couple of weeks ago he thought he wouldn’t be competing in it, nor, for that matter, in many PGA Tour events for the rest of this year. But then came a telephone call from PGA Tour headquarters informing him of a recent change in the rules for players competing on major medical extensions. As a result, Poulter kept his playing rights for the rest of the year when he thought that after missing the cut at last month’s Valero Texas Open, he had lost them.
Hard to assess how such good news would affect a player other than to say it would please the player. Poulter’s response was typical. “This is a big week for me. Trying to take the opportunity (I have been given) and to press forward as hard as I can. The door has been opened. I want to walk through that door.”
Relieved of any worries about where he could and would play for the rest of the year, he demonstrated some outstanding form Saturday and he certainly walked through that door. On a windy, difficult day, only one man in the entire field of 71 of the world’s best golfers got round the difficult Stadium course without a bogey. Step forward Ian Poulter, who had one birdie and 17 pars to finish on 6-under par.
“Before I teed off, Pat Perez walked into the locker room and I saw he had posted a 66, which is an incredible round of golf. When I got to the range I can see it is blowing 25 mph and I thought, ‘Wow! This is going to be a proper test of golf.’ So to go bogey-free today was incredible.”
Poulter will soon return to Europe to compete in the Irish, French and Scottish opens. He paid tribute to the work done by Keith Pelley, chief executive of the European Tour, in getting the Rolex Series established. But for now, he needs one more good round to win a big prize in the US. He has not finished better than 25th at the Players since he came second in 2009. “Obviously a win (here) would be exceptionally nice because then it changes things dramatically,” he said. “I mean dramatically. We’ll see.”