Poulter is making his first return to Wentworth Golf Club since 2014, hot on the heels of a runner-up finish at the Players Championship. That seven-figure payday locked up his PGA Tour card through next season, and it allowed the Englishman to shift his focus back to Europe for the European Tour's flagship event.
Poulter's runner-up finish did not secure berths in either the U.S. Open or The Open, leaving work to be done this week. Poulter is currently ranked No. 81 in the world and must crack the top 50 this week to earn an exemption to Royal Birkdale; a spot in the OWGR top 60 on June 12 will net a spot at Erin Hills.
But Poulter knows that a win this week will lock up his summer schedule without having to worry about the fluctuations of the world rankings.
"I'm hoping to win this week, and then I'm in," Poulter told reporters Tuesday. "All good things come from winning golf tournaments. So if I play well this week, and I win this week, then it takes care of that."
Poulter is planning to take next week off and return to the PGA Tour at the FedEx St. Jude Classic, a start that he hopes precedes a trip to Erin Hills. He was sidelined last summer with a foot injury, and as a result he missed the U.S. Open for the first time since 2003.
Should he fail to win this week or crack the top 60, Poulter will need to take his chances with a sectional qualifier on June 5 - an option that doesn't appear to be a sure thing for the 41-year-old.
"Open qualifying is a last resort," Poulter said. "I still haven't made a decision even if I'm going to go over and try and qualify. But I'd like to take care of that this week. That's the plan."