Sport Golf

Sunday 4 December 2016

Poulter: Seeing Big Three fill boots makes me hungrier

Published 24/11/2015 | 02:30

Jordan Spieth will bid to consolidate his position as World No 1 this weekend when he defends his Australian Open title in New South Wales
Jordan Spieth will bid to consolidate his position as World No 1 this weekend when he defends his Australian Open title in New South Wales

World No 1 Jordan Spieth returns to the competitive arena this week to defend his Australian Open title in Rosbery, New South Wales.

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Watch out, puppies! The Big Dog is back and on the prowl.

But will the other competitors in the field be trembling and in awe? Not if Ian Poulter is to be believed.

Poulter, never short of self-confidence, admits that the success of Spieth, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy is "hard to watch from the outside", but is ready to accept the challenge.

Writing in the December issue of 'Golf World' magazine, Poulter pays tribute to the accomplishments of the new 'Big Three' and says: "But it's not all doom and gloom for the rest of us.

Harder

"Success is hard to watch from the outside, and I'm sure that what they have achieved will make the rest of us work that much longer and harder.

"Seeing others enjoy their moments in the sun only makes me that much more hungry."

Only one of the 'Big Three' is in action this week.

McIlroy takes a break until January following Sunday's double win in Dubai, where he claimed the tournament first prize and retained the Race To Dubai title.

The birth of Day's second child, a daughter named Lucy, keeps him at home, leaving Spieth to headline the Australian Open.

Spieth was inevitably asked about the rivalry between the men who have won five of the last six Major championships between them.

"There will be some bouncing around at the top of the rankings and I'm hoping we can all get into contention with each other," said Spieth.

Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke is also playing in Australia.

Paul Dunne, who won his 2016 Tour card at Q-School last week, plays on the first official European Tour event of the 2015-16 season, the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek in South Africa.

Mount Juliet touring professional Kevin Phelan did not win full status at the Tour School but has gained a spot in the tournament.

The Alfred Dunhill Championship starts what will be a busy season, with a number of tournaments re-scheduled due to the Olympic golf competition in Rio de Janeiro in August.

Most significant is the USPGA Championship moving back into July, the same month as the Open Championship at Troon. Shane Lowry badly wants to play in the Ryder Cup at Medinah but will face a clash of commitments between the French Open and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational from June 30-July 3.

The European Tour have enhanced the attractiveness of the French Open. It will now count as two qualifying tournaments of the five required for Tour membership, and will offer extra Ryder Cup qualifying points.

In addition, any prize money won in the WGC-Bridgestone by European Tour members will not count towards Race to Dubai rankings or Ryder Cup points.

Lowry, who intends to make good use of his PGA Tour exemption for winning the Bridgestone, will no doubt hope to have plenty of Ryder Cup points banked before he goes to defend his title at Akron, Ohio.

Just to underline how important that victory was to Lowry's career, it earned him over €1m and shot him up the R2D rankings, which in turn brought more rewards.

On Sunday, he finished tied 48th, earning only €34,800 in prize money for the tournament.

However, for finishing fifth in the Race to Dubai, Lowry earned €411,760 from the Bonus Pool.

Meanwhile, Stephanie Meadow has received the LPGA's Heather Farr Perseverance Award in recognition of her dedication in a difficult year during which her father, Robert, died.

Irish Independent

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