Ian Poulter shook his head from side to side. He recognized the question even before it was fully asked. Is it possible for him to get as fired up at the Masters as his possessed performance at the 2012 Ryder Cup?
“No is the simple answer,” said the European Ryder Cup hero. “But what will happen is on Sunday afternoon, when you’re coming down the stretch, you will be feeling the same kind of emotions.”
Poulter, 37, is confident he will be feeling those good vibes at crunch time, and proclaimed the Masters his best chance to win that elusive first major.
Poulter has good memories at Augusta to fall back on. He led after 36 holes in 2010, and was one of only five players in the field to finish all four rounds at par or better last year.
Working against him is the chest infection he’s been battling for more than a week. It forced him to rest for a few days, and to replace the air-conditioning filters at his home. Poulter said he is still taking antibiotics.
“I’m taking every tablet, nose spray, eye drops, the lot,” he said.
Poulter said he will be ready to go for his tee time at 10:34 a.m. Thursday. Rory McIlroy wasn’t the only Masters contestant to add the Valero Texas Open in order to get “match sharp.” Poulter had never competed the week before the Masters, but did so under the theory that “it obviously hasn’t worked so far, so let’s try something new,” he said.
Poulter would like nothing more than to put an end to two streaks: No European has won the Masters this century.
“We just haven’t performed very well,” he said bluntly.
Nor has an Englishman won a major since Nick Faldo captured the 1996 Masters. He and fellow Englishman Lee Westwood, Justin Rose, and Luke Donald are all still seeking their first major. Was Poulter surprised by their combined goose egg in golf’s biggest events? This time, Poulter nodded.
“Yes. Simple,” he said.