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Poulter gets in Ryder zone

IAN POULTER has taken a Ryder Cup mentality into this week's BMW Championship in Chicago -- and so far it seems to be working.

Poulter resumed the third leg of the FedEx Cup play-off series today in joint third place after a five-under-par 65 that was a superb effort considering he started with a double bogey.

"I was trying to get in that kind of mindset, making as many birdies as I did in the Ryder Cup last time around," said Poulter, who trails American Matt Kuchar by two, but is seven ahead of Tiger Woods after another disappointing display by the world number one.



PERFORM

"If you can somehow get into that frame of mind that anything is possible you can make 10 birdies in a round of golf.

"I want to perform again. It was special last time and it will be special again."

Poulter, top-scorer in Louisville despite Europe's defeat, could need a top seven finish this week to be among the 30 players who contest the Tour Championship in Atlanta in a fortnight's time.

"The way I look at it is I've either got a week off before the Ryder Cup or I've got two," he added. "It's as plain and simple as that."

Woods also began with a double bogey yesterday and then mixed three birdies with three bogeys to find himself down at 45th in an event where he probably requires fifth place at worst to qualify for the final event of the play-offs.

Once again, however, Phil Mickelson failed to capitalise on his main rival's troubles as he set off on his 11th attempt to take the world number one spot off him.

Only a top-two finish will suffice for Mickelson this time, but after a 72 he is in 34th spot with both Londoner Brian Davis and Scot Martin Laird.

Kuchar leads by one from compatriot Ryan Moore and as the front-runner in the FedEx Cup race already -- he won the opening event two weeks ago -- he is even closer now to the £6.5million jackpot that goes to the overall winner.

Despite flu-like symptoms he eagled the 15th like Poulter, matched his six birdies and dropped his only stroke on the 383-yard eighth, where he went from one bunker to another.

Winner of the US Amateur title on the course in 1997, Kuchar, not wanting to speak much because of how he felt, said: "I've got good memories of this place, so it continued to go well for me.

"Last week was a little bit suspect and this week I kind of figured some stuff out, hitting the ball solid and making some putts."



Running

Luke Donald, joint second in the Deutsche Bank Championship on Monday, is in the running again after a 68.

Justin Rose had the same score, while Paul Casey, like Rose overlooked for a Ryder Cup wild card, shot 69.

But Rory McIlroy had only two of the 70-strong field below him after an error-strewn 76. At least there is no halfway cut this week and, having come into the week 29th in the play-off standings, the 21-year-old has time to recover.

Nicolas Colsaerts hailed his recent putting homework after he equalled his lowest score on the circuit with an opening eight-under-par 62 in the KLM Open at Hilversum yesterday.

"I have been working quite a bit on my putting and it's a lot easier when you are playing well rather than when you have your back against the wall," he said.


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