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Ian Poulter

Why Poulter is the master of golf’s hardest shot

On Ian Poulter's 44th birthday we look back on one hole that typified what a one-off character that the one-time assistant pro is
 

If ever one hole summed up Ian Poulter’s grit and mettle then the 72nd at the 2017 Players Championship would come pretty close.

Trying to chase down Si Woo Kim the Englishman shanked one so badly that it then ricocheted off some hospitality tents and a cart path before ending up in a bush.

He then took a penalty drop in some pine needles and nearly holed it.

Forget the long bunker shot, the hardest shot in the game is the one that follows a shank and Poulter is the master of it.

Speaking to him the day after he very nearly won the Open at Muirfield in 2013 he told me: “It doesn’t bother me. It is irrelevant. It is so close to the sweet spot that you shouldn’t change what you are already doing. Most people try and compensate and they hit another one. Their process after the first one isn’t good.”

When I reminded him of the time he once hit a couple in a round at the Masters he couldn’t have been less bothered.

“It’s gone, it’s irrelevant. I had one at the 4th off the tee and one with my approach to the 15th where I was way out to the right and then still nearly made birdie.”

When asked about his Players pipe he was similarly buoyant.

“It was a big shock to the system to hit one of those nasty shanks when I’ve hit it as good as I have all week, but the fourth shot was pretty special, from one of the worst shots I’ve ever hit to one of the very best. It’s nice obviously not to compound an error with another one.”

The final doff of the visor comes when given a bit of a get-out by a journalist’s question that maybe he simply hit an enormous block or “just got a little ahead of it”.

“Oh, it was a full one. Yeah, it was a lovely one. Make no mistake – it was a shank. You’d like me to spell it for you?”

Mark Townsend

Been watching and playing golf since the early 80s and generally still stuck in this period. Huge fan of all things Robert Rock, less so white belts. Handicap of 8, fragile mind and short game

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