Poulter proves he's not all mouth and garish trousers
THE banter around the lunch table at Hong Kong Golf Club last Tuesday was as hot as anything you'd find in a Kowloon curry house.
Verbal hooks and jabs flew back and forth across the crockery as Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and a couple of pals engaged in some fiery verbal sparring.
The way Poulter tells it, McDowell cheerfully threw a jab or two at McIlroy after leapfrogging his good pal into ninth place in the world rankings.
Then Poulter himself produced a real haymaker. "I told the boys I'd win the Hong Kong Open," Poulter explained with a chuckle. "I actually told them I'd win by five, which was a bit tongue-in-cheek . . . a little bit of a dig."
Well, Poulter won all right and even if it was by one, not five, the 33-year-old is making a habit of delivering on promises as brash as his fashion statements.
In the courtesy car on the way to Fanling on Friday, for example, Poulter blithely announced to fellow passengers that, despite a frustrating three-under 67 in the first round, he expected "to get to 13-under today".
Then, out he went and posted a staggering 60. The most striking recent example of Poulter's remarkable capacity for positive thinking came on the Monday at the Ryder Cup.
Oblivious to the butterflies fluttering around the practice range, Poulter told every team-mate who would listen that he definitely was going to chalk up a point in his singles match with Matt Kuchar.
For good measure, he repeated this assertion in an interview with Sky's Tim Barter, then went out and demolished Kuchar, top finisher on the US Money List in 2010, by 4&3.
Poulter took a lot of stick a couple of years back for saying that if he played to his full potential, he'd be second only to Tiger Woods in the world rankings.
After soaring to world No 5 on the back of last February's sensational victory at the Accenture Match Play Championship, Poulter slipped back down the greasy pole during the summer, but rebounded to No 11 with Sunday's success in Hong Kong.
Those who used believe Poulter was all mouth and garish trousers are being forced to think again. In the new world order following Tiger's demise, he has enough belief in himself and his putter to challenge for the No 1 spot.