Resurgent Ian Poulter Rolls Back Years at TPC Sawgrass
Ian Poulter overcame a year of uncertainty and frustration to complete on the best weeks of his career and finish second at The Players Championship. The 41-year-old Englishman missed four months of last season due to a foot injury - was absent from the Open at Royal Troon - and looked to have lost his tour card last month. However, in a fortunate turn of events, the PGA Tour granted him a reprieve after a clerical error with the points was deemed to have unfairly gone against him.
That allowed him entry into the Tour's showpiece event at TPC Sawgrass, where he rolled back the years to move into contention on Sunday, ultimately finishing three shots back of impressive winner Si Woo Kim. This all happened despite the former Ryder Cup hero having not made a putt outside 20-feet all week, with his long game looking as good as it ever has, making the most of an improved an relaxed mentality after a significant period of decline.
"It has been miserable, there's no other way to explain it," Poulter told BBC Sport afterwards.
"When you're taking a break for several months, when your world ranking plummets, when you miss Ryder Cups, when you find yourself in a position chasing down to try and keep your tour card.
"It's obviously been the toughest stretch of my career. We're still working through some things to try and be 100% there. I think I'm at 75%."
Always a character who attracts attention and debate, Poulter faced criticism from Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, who stated that two-time European Tour winner was playing defensive towards the end and was looking to secure a high finish, rather than aggressively charging towards the title.
Brandel, on the way Poults played down the stretch: "He clearly did not play to win, and he didn't!"— Ryan Lavner (@RyanLavnerGC) May 14, 2017
Earning $924,000 this week, Poulter responded to the former PGA Tour player on Twitter in typical fashion.
Sorry to disappoint, I can only dream of being as good as Brandel.. it's clearly very easy sitting on your arse... thanks for the support. https://t.co/hK8rs8NcXW— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) May 15, 2017
Say no more... ???????????? pic.twitter.com/wmVndofhng— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) May 15, 2017
What is now clear is that Poulter remains capable of being a force once again in the game, having not lost his ability to def the odds and prove people wrong, which has been a defining quality of his career. Looking forward to a busy schedule and events in the UK this summer, many golf fans will be delighted to see one of the game's biggest personalities back to his best.
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