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Poulter 'burns' to shed label, win elusive first major

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After his stirring play at the Ryder Cup, after capturing his second World Golf Championships event, it was only natural to wonder: Is Ian Poulter the best player yet to have won a major?

Conveniently, the Englishman answered that very question Tuesday on Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive.”

“I don’t know about that, because there’s quite a few right now who have that tag,” he said, referring to fellow Englishmen Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Justin Rose. “I’m working hard to win a major. Players get looked upon by how many majors they won, and that’s right there in the forefront of my mind. I feel like I need to compete and get my hands on one of those majors. … I can only say it burns harder and harder each major that slides by.”

Poulter, 36, racked up three of his five career top 10s in majors this season – 7th at Masters, T-9 at British, T-3 at PGA – and his closest call remains the 2008 British Open, where he finished runner-up to Padraig Harrington at Royal Birkdale.

His match-play record, of course, is outstanding – 12-3 at the Ryder Cup, past winner of the WGC-Match Play and Volvo Match Play – but for whatever reason, that hasn’t translated to nearly the same level of success in stroke play. He has 12 European Tour victories, while winning only twice on the PGA Tour (both WGC events).

“When I’m in good form and holing putts, I’m obviously going to be tough to beat,” said Poulter, now ranked 15th in the world. “Albeit in match play and Ryder Cup I’ve been a huge force, but I need to take that into stroke play and be a lot stronger in that format.

“I’ve been very hard on myself, but I have to look at the way I play sometimes, and other times it takes me a long while before I get back in the winner’s circle. I know it’s good at times, but it needs to be really good all the time. I expect that of myself, and when I do great things and play well, I feel that there’s a lot of potential that I’m leaving out there on the golf course.”