For 1 Day Poulter Backs Up Words

By Associated PressApril 10, 2008, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The cheer was as loud anything Ian Poulter had heard, to be expected after a hole-in-one Thursday on the 16th hole of the Masters before thousands of fans perched on a hill above the green.
 
He plucked the ball from the cup and held it with two fingers to salute the crowd, a most appropriate signal.
 
Thats his nickname these days'world No. 2.
 
Even with his spiked hair and outrageous wardrobe, Poulter was ridiculed earlier this year for an interview with a British golf magazine in which he suggested he alone was the only player capable of challenging Tiger Woods.
 
Poulter certainly looked the part in the first round at Augusta National.
 
He nearly made a hole-in-one on No. 4, the toughest par 3 on the course, and gave himself birdie opportunities on all but two holes. His opening 2-under 70 was his best start at the Masters, and earned a piece of crystal for an ace he wont soon forget.
 
Massive. Unbelievable buzz, Poulter said. It was a special moment, and the hairs on the back of your neck were standings up.
 
Now if he can get everyone to forget about that interview.
 
Poulter has only seven victories, all on the European Tour. He has only one top 10 in a major, a tied for ninth at Medinah in the 2006 PGA Championship when he finished nine shots behind Woods.
 
So it was surprising when he told Golf World U.K. that he doesnt rate anyone else.
 
Dont get me wrong. I really respect every professional golfer, Poulter said. But I know I havent played to my full potential, and when that happens, it will be just me and Tiger.
 
It wasnt a knock on Woods, rather the two dozen players ahead of him in the world ranking, many of them his European peers. The ribbing came from every direction, even from the worlds No. 1. Woods was leaving the locker room at the Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona when he turned the corner and passed Poulter, saying, Hey, No. 2.
 
Poulter said his comments were taken out of context, and so was the reaction.
 
I was basically saying how good Tiger was and how achievable I really think it is to get to the No. 2 spot, he said. It was pretty difficult for a few days. Amongst the guys, it was friendly banter. I wasnt comparing anything to Tiger. I wasnt going to say I was going to go win 84 tournaments on the PGA Tour. I havent won one yet. To be compared to him was a little unfair.
 
It was tricky, but I think were fine.
 
Poulter could not think of a better start to this Masters, except for a few more putts to fall. He has posted better scores in the majors, but he could not think of too many rounds where he hit the ball better, and gave himself so many chances.
 
I dont know if thats a true reflection of how well I played today, but its probably one of the best rounds of golf Ive ever played, he said. You dont have to shoot 61 for it to be the best round of golf youve ever played. If I sit back home tonight and go through it for 10 minutes, I wouldnt want to putt the ball in any different positions from where I did today.
 
Of course, he didnt have to putt on No. 16.
 
With the pin below the ridge, Poulter hit an 8-iron from 169 yards that never left the middle of the green, which is where he was aiming. It caught the slope perfectly and began its descent toward the hole. It hit the pin squarely and disappeared.
 
As soon as it left the club, I knew it was going to be pretty good, Poulter said.
 
Trees that once were to the left of the green have been cleared to provide even more viewing, creating an amphitheater and one of the loudest corners at Augusta National.
 
Little did Poulter know, his audience included the world No. 1.
 
Woods was standing on the sixth tee when he heard the crescendo of cheers that topped out when the ball dropped for the ace. He turned his eyes back to the sixth green, contemplating his next shot.
 
Woods is not concerned with Poulter, and the Englishman says theres no need for him to feel that way.
 
Quite frankly, theres nobody in the same bracket as him. Hes that good, Poulter said. You have to be realistic with your goals. Things are achievable if you play well over a year period or a two-year period. And I think the No. 2 spot for me is achievable.
 
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    After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

    Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

    Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

    It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


    On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

    There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

    He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

    His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

    Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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    Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

    With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

    He picked up one more No. 2, too.

    The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

    In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

    Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

    “It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

    Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

    Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

    He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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    Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

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    Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

    Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

    Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

    What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

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    Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

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