x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 29 July 2017

Ian Poulter to lay down new marker

Given his natural confidence and recent form, Englishman may be close to winning major tournaments, writes John McAuley.

Ian Poulter followed up his Ryder Cup performance with a title win at the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shenzen, China, last week. Mark Ralston / AFP
Ian Poulter followed up his Ryder Cup performance with a title win at the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shenzen, China, last week. Mark Ralston / AFP

When does a "lucky" marker cease being a charmed companion? Perhaps Ian Poulter could elaborate, having been denied victory two years ago at Dubai's Jumeirah Golf Estates in the climax to the European Tour season.

The engrossing Englishman, having entered a play-off against Robert Karlsson, incurred a one-stroke penalty for dropping his ball on to his marker on the 18th green – the second hole of sudden death – to gift his opponent the title.

"How frustrating was it?" Poulter said after Karlsson sank his first of two putts for the win. "About 20 world rankings points frustrating. Plus a lovely trophy, plus around US$400,000 (Dh1.46 million).

"But I am not going to lose any sleep over it, that is for sure."

Despite his apparent acceptance, Poulter has the chance to exact revenge at the Earth Course in two weeks' time. And, if his imperious performance in Sunday's WGC-HSBC Champions is anything to go by, he may well be about to finally validate that famous faith in his own ability.

It will take some time, if at all possible, to erase the memory of the bizarre claim in a 2008 edition of Golf World that, should he realise his full potential, it would be "just me and Tiger".

Back then, Tiger Woods was a 13-time major champion and undisputed world No 1. Poulter had one top 10 in 19 major attempts.

However, the new world No 15 appears closer than ever to landing the "big one" to justify his considerable confidence. A remarkable Ryder Cup display reinforced his best season in the majors, where seventh at the US Masters preceded tied-ninth at the British Open and a tied-third at the US PGA Championship.

Last weekend's work at Mission Hills, full of sturdy iron play and routinely steady putting, accentuated the belief that Poulter is about to deliver on his promise. A late developer in professional golf terms, the unflappable 36 year old usually leaves it late in the year to collect titles.

Successes in Singapore in 2009 and Hong Kong the following year prove he is a man who thrives during season end.

Although now fourth in the Race to Dubai, he will recognise front-runner Rory McIlroy is too far into the distance. A clumsy fumble will not derail his DP World Tour Championship chances this time around, though. It should set him up nicely for a 2013 of major proportions.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE