Poulter wants one more big week to seal US Open spot

Ian Poulter playing at last week's Byron Nelson tournament in Texas, where he tied for 35th following his runner-up finish the previous week at the Players Championship. His improved form has rejuvenated his season.
Ian Poulter playing at last week's Byron Nelson tournament in Texas, where he tied for 35th following his runner-up finish the previous week at the Players Championship. His improved form has rejuvenated his season.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • England's Ian Poulter is aiming to cement his place in next month's US Open with a win in the European PGA Championship which starts at Wentworth today.

The 81st-ranked golfer in the world needs to get into the top 60 of the rankings by June 12 - or win this tournament - to reserve his place at Erin Hills in the season's second Major or face heading to qualifying.

The 41-year-old will have other chances to qualify but his confidence is high after finishing second at the Players Championship a fortnight ago and he wants to make the most of his momentum.

That runner-up spot at Sawgrass stopped a slump which had seen him fall to 204th in the rankings and gave him hope that he can sort out his immediate future this week.

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"I am hoping to win this week and then I am in," Poulter said at Wentworth on Tuesday. "All good things come from winning golf tournaments so if I play well this week and I win then it takes care of that.

"US Open qualifying is a last resort and I am not sure if I will need that resort and I am still not sure if I am going to go over and try and qualify. But I would like to care of that this week - that's the plan.

"I am in a really good frame of mind and when you are in a good frame of mind generally good things happen."

Poulter's career was in a tailspin until his Players performance and that has enabled him to map out a plan for the next few weeks.

"I can't emphasise how big a week it was," he said. "From just a perspective of planning, there wasn't any planning I could really do."

Masters champion Sergio Garcia and the injured world No. 2 Rory McIlroy are missing this week but Olympic gold medallist Justin Rose, British Open champion Henrik Stenson, last year's Masters winner Danny Willett and world No. 13 Alex Noren are all on parade along with defending champion Chris Wood.

The field will be playing a much-changed course which has been altered after being the subject of harsh criticism from the players over the last few years.

Twenty-nine bunkers have been removed and four greens - the eighth, 11th, 14th and 16th - have been rebuilt while another five have been revamped.

Wood, who was nine-under 279 when winning last year, said: "It's between one and two shots easier a round. It's a bit of a guess. I'd think you have to be 15 under this year to have a chance."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

EUROPEAN PGA CHAMPIONSHIP

Day 1: StarHub Ch204, 5pm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 25, 2017, with the headline 'Poulter wants one more big week to seal US Open spot'. Print Edition | Subscribe