Golf: Poulter on the up after career slump

Ian Poulter will contest this week's British Masters in a much better frame of mind than when he was in the doldrums earlier this year.
Ian Poulter will contest this week's British Masters in a much better frame of mind than when he was in the doldrums earlier this year.PHOTO: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

NEWCASTLE, United Kingdom (AFP) - Ian Poulter is on the verge of breaking back into golf's elite top 50 just months after slumping to 207th in the world and losing his PGA Tour card.

Poulter will contest this week's British Masters in the northeastern English city of Newcastle ranked 55th in the world and in a much better frame of mind than when he was in the doldrums earlier this year.

The Englishman lost his playing status on the US PGA Tour after missing the cut at the Texas Open in April because he had earned insufficient prize money.

It was the 10th and final event of his major medical exemption, granted after he missed a big chunk of last season with arthritis in his right foot.

But to his immense relief, tour officials said just a week later that Poulter would keep his card after a recalibration of the FedEx Cup playoff points structure for players competing on major medical exemptions.

Poulter showed his delight by finishing second at the Players Championship in May to effectively secure his 2018 Tour card after just one event.

"At one stage before New Orleans we were speaking about damage limitation and where could I play and what I was going to do," he said. "Am I right for invitations? And I was reassessing my whole life." "So, I first had a very short window to reevaluate my golfing life and then real quickly from having no playing schedule to realising I had a full playing schedule.

"It was chaotic. It was stressful and it had been a really, bizarre five months and the most bizarre of my career." .

TOUR CARD

Poulter was getting abuse on social media and also having to deal with increased media scrutiny over the prospect of losing his tour card.

"My career had been pretty steady along with my world ranking, along with having highs in my game after Ryder Cup performances but never had I that issue of plummeting down the rankings to 200 and something in the world (207th in late February) and not knowing where or if you are going to play golf," he said.

"It was not good for the mind space at all and it sent me into a frenzy at times but we are through it and I am OK, and I think we are all good."

Aside from breaking back into the top 50, Poulter is targeting the majors and a sixth Ryder Cup appearance for Europe in France next year.

"Of course, if you are playing in all the majors and the WGCs (World Golf Championships events) it should be easy to make the Ryder Cup team and if not, it is more difficult.

"So I am literally still taking it one step at a time at the moment and that goal is to make it into the HSBC Champions in Shanghai later next month and let's kick on from there.

"There have been a lot of moving parts to my life this year that have been very tricky to manage and fortunately they have been simplified."