Golf

‘Overrated’ Ian Poulter ready to silence critics at Colonial

Ian Poulter is eyeing a win at Colonial after a strong opening two rounds.
Ian Poulter is eyeing a win at Colonial after a strong opening two rounds. Star-Telegram

Ian Poulter is overrated.

At least that’s what a Sports Illustrated survey from earlier this month revealed, based on polling of fellow PGA Tour golfers. Maybe it’s another way of saying Poulter is among the best golfers without a major championship to his name.

Either way, the dubious distinction doesn’t seem to bother Poulter. After all, Rickie Fowler shared the title with him and Fowler proceeded to win The Players Championship.

“Do you think I pay attention to what people think?” Poulter said, chuckling. “I mean, seriously. Come on. It’s water off a duck’s back.

“Obviously, Rickie went out there and made amends to that comment. He’s taking care of his business. It’s time for me to take care of mine.”

So far, so good for Poulter at this weekend’s Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. He’s sitting in second with an 8-under 132 after shooting a 3-under 67 on a damp Friday. He’s the closest threat to tournament leader Kevin Na, who sits at 10-under 130.

Considering Poulter is the 31st-ranked player in the world, it’s not too surprising to see him in position to win going into the weekend. But he was a surprise last-minute entry into the field.

Poulter, the 39-year-old Brit, hasn’t played Colonial since 2010. Most of the upper echelon European players, such as Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose, opt to play the European Tour’s BMW PGA Championship at the Wentworth Club outside of London this week.

Poulter had done that in the past, too, because it had been required to fulfill a European Tour obligation of playing a “home” event. Since Poulter is from the United Kingdom, the Wentworth event ranks as the highest. But an additional event has been added, the British Masters at Woburn Golf Club in October, which Poulter is actually hosting himself.

Because of that, Poulter could enter the Colonial field.

“They would like me to play Wentworth. I personally would like to play Wentworth,” Poulter explained. “But it’s a golf course which hasn’t been too kind to me over the years. My performances haven’t been very good there.”

At Colonial, however, Poulter has had more success. He finished 15th in his debut in 2008 followed by a tie for ninth in 2009. He made the cut again in 2010, but a 6-over 76 finish dropped him to 76th.

The five-year hiatus hasn’t seemed to bother Poulter, who has found his putting stroke through the first two rounds. He drained a 16-foot putt for birdie on the par-3 fourth, and also buried a 13-foot birdie putt on No. 6. In all, of his six birdie putts on Friday, five were at least 10-feet long.

Poulter also snaked in a 34-foot birdie on No. 3 Thursday.

“I’m starting to hit my putts on my line, and that’s always refreshing as a pro,” Poulter said. “Read the putt and then start the ball on the line you think and they start to go in, and then obviously you gain a bit of confidence. From there, you’re obviously going to make a few birdies.”

If he continues to make birdies, there’s no reason to think Poulter can’t win himself a plaid jacket. Sure, it’s not a coveted green jacket, but it’d shut some of the “overrated” talk up.

“It’s actually become quite funny, to be honest,” Poulter said. “I take it a little bit tongue in cheek. I know my golf game, and I’m quite comfortable within myself.”

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @drewdavison

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