Being the diehard Tottenham Hotspur fan that I am, I really have nothing against Ian Poulter other than his support that lot at the far end of the Tottenham High Road. Oh, and of course his dress sense, which has, on occasions, had me reaching for the sick bucket. But on the golf course, I find him a most enjoyable watch. He certainly doesn’t leave anything in the locker room and he clearly wears his heart on his sleeve. Even if it’s a sleeve no longer made by his clothing company, IJP Design, as he had to close the company doors in March of this year, after 10 years of business. Rumour has it the failing company has been hemorrhaging cash for a good few years, finding it hard to get a foothold in the competitive golf clothing market. But then, given Poulter’s acquired fashion sense, you wonder who convinced him to invest his hard earned into a range of clothing in the first instance.
But this outpouring of melancholy over the fact that he could well lose his place on the PGA tour, having slipped to #206 in the Official World Golf Rankings, is I’m afraid, a little over the top for me.
Yes, he’s been hurt, a nasty foot injury that made him sit out a chunk of last year. But yes, he’s had the required tour dispensation from playing because of the injury. The same as anyone else would get in a similar position. And yes, it probably does take longer than the ten-event extension that he was given to help him regain his form and earn the required money to retain his card. But rules are rules we can’t just change them to suit a tour favorite.
Although there is an old golfing adage, “beware of the sick man.” Often times, golfers not feeling at the top of their physical condition are able to cobble together a decent round or two. Didn’t Rory recently shoot a 68 while battling a virulent stomach bug? And let’s not forget Justin’s Day’s problems. I believe it’s because playing within your natural capabilities can work, sometimes.
Personally, I don’t know Poulter, we wouldn’t have much in common to talk about if we met, not with him supporting the red and white side of North London and me supporting the blue and white, but I’m sure that he isn’t looking for any special treatment. So, I don’t have the same sympathy for Poults, as he’s known by his friends, as a lot of the golfing fraternity do and I’m sure he wouldn’t want me to. After all, I haven’t heard one moan or groan from the golfer himself, he just seems to be going about his business. A business which has netted him $36 million in earnings, not so shabby for thwacking the little white sphere around the best golf courses in the world, another reason not to feel too much sympathy.
For him to save himself from dropping into golfing abyss and to secure his card the sums are simple; he needs to win $30,624 at the Valero Texas Open, which equates to a top 30 finish. But, it started badly, having shot a 3 over par 75 in the first round, leaving him way down the field. So, how I see it is he has to shoot something pretty remarkable today, just to make the cut.
It cannot be denied that it’s proving a pretty horrid time for the one-time assistant pro from Chesfield Downs Golf Club. If he fails to make the numbers in Texas, then he’ll have to rely on sponsor’s invitations to get starts for the coming season. Yes, there will be some, but probably not enough. Some commentators are saying it could affect his ability to keep up his Florida lifestyle and his collection of expensive cars. But, I doubt that. I can’t see his bank balance being depleted so much that we will see his Ferrari California in The Auto Trader, anytime soon.
The big blow for him must be mentally and a huge dent to his ego. He does have an ego. And no matter how much of a brave face Poults puts on it, as is his normal style, this has still got to hurt. After all, he’s been competing on the PGA since 2005.
The options he is left with are all rather on the unappetizing side. Play on the web.com tour, where the prize money and the competition isn’t too exciting. The leading money winner on this tour has only pocketed $171k, barely enough to buy four new tires for Poulter’s beloved Bentley Continental GT.
Playing on the Web.com tour would be rather akin to his beloved Arsenal dropping down to Evo-stick Southern League and mixing it week in week out with teams like Biggleswade Town, Hayes&Yeading Utd, and Merthyr Town, but it is one way to regain his card. Although it has to be said, not everyone bounces straight back up. Some who have slipped this far down the golfing rankings have struggled to recover, Jeff Overton for one, remember him? He played in the 2010 Ryder cup and he is currently wallowing at # 826 in the Official World golf Rankings.
Failing that, Poulter could make the occasional trip out to Asia and probably top up the old bank balance a little. But I wonder how welcome he would be having called first-year Japanese pro Hideki Matsuyama an “idiot” on Twitter during the WGC-Cadillac Championship and although probably right in his condemnation of the rookie golfer, not going to play in Asia as a PGAtour card holder, and out of necessity rather than choice, some would consider that karma.
Other than that it is likely we will see a lot more of him in Europe. He’ll just have to slum it with the likes of Edoardo Molinari, Jordan Smith, Chris Hanson and David Drysdale, which I doubt he’d mind too much and I know the crowds would love to see him back on a regular basis.
Let’s be honest, what’s not to love about watching Ian Poulter marching down the fairway looking like he wants to fight or love everyone, and sometimes both at the same time. Yes, Milton Keynes doesn’t have the same je ne sais quoi as Orlando… but it also, doesn’t have crocodiles. I doubt he’ll ever get bitten on the arse by a concrete cow. In fact, the only thing that Poulter would probably hate about coming home to play the European tour full time would be having to watch the mighty Tottenham look down from on high at his less than average Gooners. Sorry about that Poults. Couldn’t resist. I may be a little previous, but welcome, home buddy.