Mar 12th, 2017
Time is running out for Ian Poulter
PGA Tour card slipping away...
Words: Tim Southwell Photography: Getty
Poulter is tied 54th after a miserable day at Palm Harbour.
Poulter needs a top 7 finish to secure his tour card for the rest of the season as the expiry of his medical exemption looms.
He started with a birdie four in his third round but six bogeys saw him tumble down the leader board to 54th place. The fact is, Poulter's inactivity and poor form over the last 12 months has seen the former World Number 5 fall all the way down to 206th in the World Rankings. It does not make pleasant reading for a golfer who's sheer self-belief has seen him scale incredible heights.
"I've stopped looking at the World Rankings," admitted Poults. "Just because it's not a very nice number to look at. It was good when it was No. 5. It was great. I used to look at it all the time. But 200 doesn't sound very good, does it?"
"I hate going four pages down (each WGR page has 50 places on)," Poulter said. "It's miserable."
Actually, you're going down five pages... Poulter's fall from grace started last year when his foot injury became so bad he took the decision to blow out the rest of the season. In a Ryder Cup year... It was the first time in 10 years Poulter had missed the event which has come to define him over the last decade.
Happy that his foot was now back to somewhere near normal, Poulter came back in Autumn 2016 on a 10-tournament medical extension. He's not been overly convincing still has to make $220,301 or 154 FedEx Cup points in order to ensure he is not going back to the European Tour or, indeed, trying to qualify for his card via the web.com.
His best finish this season is 17th at the CIMB back in October for which he earned 48 FedEx points. In the five events he's played he's missed the cut twice. If he finishes in his current 54th position at the Valspar he will only gain another 8 points. He'll have four more tournaments to get a top 10 finish to get anywhere near the required tally.
"I'm on borrowed time," Poulter said. "Yeah, I need to perform well. ... A win would be nice. I have to think that I've got a chance, I really do. The situation I'm in, I have to be aggressive, but I've got to be careful. I can't make many mistakes.
"I'm looking at it like I would like to be in a position with the six events I'm going to play to earn enough money, which secures everything. Back in the top 50. Back in a position to be in The Open Championship. Back in a position to enjoy the back half of the year."
"I have to earn enough money to continue the season," he said. "So if I play well in those six events, I've obviously got a great chance to do that. If I can win one of those six, then it takes care of it. And if I can win one of the first few, I can get into Augusta."
You wouldn't expect him to say anything else and it's this steely, almost belligerent attitude that makes you think he can pull it off.
Poulter would do well to cast his mind back to August 2004 when he needed a stellar performance in the last round at the BMW International in Germany to book his place on the Ryder Cup team. It was the last chance saloon for Poulter. Especially when he bogeyed five of the first eight holes.
His playing partner Darren Clarke demanded that Poulter pull himself together and "give him" six birdies on the back nine. Poulter did better and, against all the odds, eagled the last to get himself on the plane to Detroit.
Spirit of 2004 – we're rooting for you here at GolfPunk, dude.