Wednesday 22 November 2017

Ian Poulter: I fancy my chances this week to overhaul Stenson in Race to Dubai

Ian Poulter
Ian Poulter
Stenson: Hit jackpot on US tour

Phil Casey

HE HAS proved it time and time again in the cauldron of a Ryder Cup, but now Ian Poulter wants to demonstrate how he thrives under pressure in pursuit of the personal goal of becoming European number one.

Poulter got off to a slow start to the season but has come into form at the right time, finishing 15th, second and fifth in the first three events of the inaugural Final Series.

That has lifted the Englishman to fourth in the Race to Dubai and within 344,000 points of leader Henrik Stenson, who gave Poulter 10/1 on a $100 bet last month that he would not be overtaken.

Stenson, Justin Rose and Graeme McDowell know a victory in the DP World Tour Championship on Sunday would clinch the Race to Dubai title and a $1m bonus, while a Poulter triumph would mean Stenson needs to finish second to deny him top spot.

"It would mean a lot," said Poulter, who inspired Europe to the 'Miracle at Medinah' last year. "I think the year has been disappointing but I guess I'm slowly turning that round at the back end of the year, which I have done a few times before.

"If I could win this week and win the Race to Dubai that would be a huge achievement for myself as a personal goal. That's something that every player wants to do.

"I've always done well under pressure, like my school report and school work. I never handed it in until the last minute. I always produced my best at the last minute. It's too easy early in the season isn't it?"

Poulter lost a play-off to Robert Karlsson for this event in 2010 when he dropped his ball on his marker to incur a one-shot penalty.

"I'm pretty confident for this week and fancy my chances," he added. "I love the golf course. I've played it really well in the past, apart from a Tiddlywink incident on the play-off hole!"

The event is meant to feature the top 60 on the Race to Dubai but only 56 players are taking part on the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates.

Sweden's Alex Noren is injured, but Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia and Charl Schwartzel are ineligible after failing to comply with a European Tour regulation which states players must play in two of the three previous events to qualify.

Els has made his displeasure known and Poulter added: "The rule was put in place; they may have got it slightly wrong. It's difficult sometimes to be able to play enough events everywhere to keep everybody happy.

"It would be nice to have Ernie, Sergio and Charl in the field and I'm sure that will be looked at and addressed. Everybody makes mistakes. I think it's a mistake that won't be made again. I think it will change for next year."

European Tour chief executive George O'Grady is set to reveal modifications to the format on Sunday, although eight-time European number one Colin Montgomerie has urged the Tour to "hold firm."

"The players are saying they are being dictated to and being told where to play, but you shouldn't have to be told to play for $7m, should you?" Montgomerie said last week.

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