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Masters back in sight as Poulter shoots 64

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HUMBLE, Texas – Ian Poulter’s Masters chance isn’t dead just yet.

The Englishman suffered bitter disappointment last week at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, where his quarterfinal loss left him barely short of qualifying for Augusta National via the world rankings. The new No. 51 in the world took the weekend to consider his options, but he ultimately decided to keep his commitment to play in this week’s Houston Open.

Poulter was one of 33 players who failed to finish the opening round before dark last night, and he returned this morning to the Golf Club of Houston to play one hole. A par closed out a 1-over 73, which given the soft conditions and easy scoring seemingly ended any opportunity he had of an 11th-hour win.

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But things can change quickly out here, as Poulter showed with a bogey-free 64 that featured only 22 putts and vaulted him to 7 under, four shots back with a chance to contend over the weekend.

“Holed a few putts,” Poulter said. “I mean, I played well yesterday. My stats were pretty good yesterday, I just didn’t convert the putts. Started to roll the putter pretty good today, and that’s the key to shooting 8 under par. You can’t make any mistakes, and you have to roll the ball well. I’ve been playing like this for a bit, just haven’t got the rub. So today, it was nice to get the rub.”

Poulter missed the Masters last year for the first time since 2006, and he’s been on the cusp of qualifying via the top 50 in the world rankings for much of the spring. With his path down Magnolia Lane now limited to a victory in Houston, which would serve as his first worldwide win since 2012, Poulter is opting to focus on the task at hand.

“I’m not thinking about it, I’m not thinking about it. I’m not even talking about it now,” Poulter said. “I was angry yesterday, felt I took myself out of the golf tournament. Obviously I put myself back in today with a good round. I’m going to need another couple of good rounds, but we’ll see how we go. It’s easier to go that way around than keep talking about it. Obviously I would like to make it, so let’s see how we go.”