LOUISVILLE, Ky. – At this point in the season, it’s not a stretch to say that Ian Poulter has had as many injuries as good results.
There was the shoulder injury at the start of the year. The back injury at the BMW PGA. The wrist injury at the Scottish Open. And then, perhaps most bizarre of all, the horsefly bite before the Bridgestone Invitational that landed him in the hospital.
So, yes, it’s been a while since the prolific tweeter has been able to tap out encouraging news, not another health update. With his injury woes (hopefully) behind him, Poulter’s opening 68 at the PGA Championship might be just the boost he needed with the Ryder Cup deadline looming.
The hero in 2012 at Medinah, Poulter would not be an automatic pick for the team if qualifying ended today, and frankly, his form hasn’t been good enough to guarantee a captain’s pick, either.
This year has been the most frustrating of his career, especially with the way he closed out 2013, with three consecutive top 5s in the Race to Dubai.
“Two steps forward and one step back all the time this year,” he said. “You feel like you’re in position, you feel good about things, and then all of a sudden you have to rest again. All the good work you’ve done is taken away.
“It’s really pissed me off. I’ve never had to deal with it like this before. I have to manage that disappointment level, especially in the year we’re in right now.”
Indeed, a year in which so many other European players are performing at an elite level. Rory McIlroy is gunning for his third victory in a row this week. Justin Rose recorded two monster wins in the past few months. Martin Kaymer won another major, Graeme McDowell got hot in the summer, and Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson have done just about everything but win.
Poulter? Well, he’s been left out.
“Coming off a really strong back end of ’13, it’s just so demoralizing to have that through the whole of 2014,” he said. “You have to sit back and reflect upon, all right, it’s been disappointing, but you just have to look forward to what there is to come.”
And there is plenty to keep him motivated: the FedEx Cup playoffs (No. 74 in the standings), the end-of-the-year Race to Dubai and the Ryder Cup, the event that he cherishes most.
Currently No. 12 on the World Points List, Poulter needs a few high finishes to become one of the nine players who qualify on points. If not, it seems highly likely that captain Paul McGinley would make Poulter one of his three wild-card selections, given his history in the event, but the Englishman doesn’t want to leave anything to chance.
“My mind is fresh and ready to go,” he said. “My body just hasn’t allowed it to. It really frustrates you. That’s hard to take. ... I want to play, and I want my body to be fit to go as many times as I possibly can.”