Augusta (United States) (AFP) – Britain’s Ian Poulter hopes lack of preparation will work as well for him at this week’s Masters as it did last week when he won to qualify for Augusta National.
The 42-year-old Englishman won the PGA Houston Open on Sunday to take the last available spot in the year’s first major tournament, where in 12 prior starts — with plenty of advance notice — he has failed to crack the top five.
“I have zero expectations,” Poulter said. “I’ve never pitched up to the Masters on a Tuesday afternoon. I would never have done as little preparation as I’m about to do for this event.
“So as confident as I feel going into this week, I believe I’m unprepared, so let’s see if that unpreparedness works in my favor. It worked out well last week. Hopefully it can work out well this week.”
Poulter barely missed a chance to make the field by reaching the world ranking top-50 two weeks ago. After having been told he had made it, he learned he came up one win short at the WGC Match-Play.
That forced him to grab a late spot in Houston, where he holed a 20-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole and went on to win his first US stroke-play title and end a win drought dating to a 2012 WGC title in China.
“It has been bizarre,” Poulter said. “To watch the TV and see everyone play practice rounds and the excitement of Tiger being back in form, it seemed a bit weird.
“I’m here late but it’s a place I love and I’m really excited to be here.”
Poulter would have been at Augusta National anyway, but instead of serving as a Sky Sports commentator, he’ll be playing.
“I’ve flipped that role, which is quite nice,” Poulter said. “It has been just amazing to get that done and be here and to be able to enjoy this week from a different perspective.”
Poulter’s compatriot Justin Rose, the 2015 and 2017 Masters runner-up, played alongside him last Saturday and liked what he saw from his long-time Ryder Cup teammate.
“I was impressed with his game,” Rose said. “He has been telling me for a while that he has been playing well and just the putter just hasn’t been quite his best friend. But we all know clearly when he gets going with the putter, it’s fun to watch.”
– Ryder Cup praise for Poulter –
Poulter has been a Ryder Cup hero for Europe, contributing to four victories in five appearances from 2004-2014, notably in an emotional 2012 fightback triumph at Medinah.
His victory boosted him into the hunt for an automatic berth for this year’s event in France as Europe tries to win back the trophy from holders United States. At the very least he’s a solid contender for one of four captain’s selections by Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn.
“He’ll strengthen our team for sure,” Rose said. “He strengthens it in a vice captain’s role. But I know he would rather be there than not be there, but as a vice captain’s role I think it’s torture for him. He’s a guy who wants to control the outcome.
“When there’s a point on the line, he delivers more often than not. And France is a perfect golf course for Ian as well. I think he will be tough to beat around there.”
Bjorn tossed his support to Poulter in his Ryder Cup website blog.
“It really was an unbelievable performance on Sunday night in Houston,” Bjorn said. “He knew he had to triumph to make the Masters and I was glued to every single moment.
“Winning any golf tournament is tough enough but to do it when you have to, is doubly impressive.
“I am sure, like me, memories of Medinah came flooding back when he holed that 20-foot birdie putt on the 72nd to get into the playoff and then to go on and win was truly remarkable and showed great character.”