Englishman Ian Poulter has urged RACV Royal Pines greens staff to ‘go low’ on the weekend so that the ‘old Ian’ can make a charge at a maiden Australian PGA Championship and break a four-year winless drought.
One of the players whose first round was cut short by the thunderstorm that hit the Gold Coast on Thursday afternoon, Poulter set his alarm for 3.30am on Friday morning and was on the range warming up by 4.50am.
Having made birdie at the 15th prior to the suspension of play on Thursday, Poulter resumed his first round at even par at 5.30am and parred his final three holes before starting his second round at 7.10am.
He made five birdies and a bogey on his front nine but after making a sixth birdie for the day on the par-5 3rd missed further chances at 4, 5, 6, 8 and 9, regularly failing to get his ball to the hole to sign for a 68, six shots behind early leader Ashley Hall.
With extreme temperatures expected for the weekend it is unlikely the greens will be made significantly quicker but Poulter was insistent that they would do well to shave off a little of the three-day growth.
“The greens are fluffy,” Poulter said post-round.
“I am a little surprised the greens are as slow as they are. I think they could be trimmed a bit.
“They’re going to firm up with the heat so they can’t be too silly and obviously if it gets 20 mile-an-hour winds they obviously don’t want balls moving but there’s plenty of grass on those greens.
“They can definitely give them a little bit of a haircut.”
Poulter’s last tournament win was the 2012 WGC-HSBC Champions event in China and in his most recent US PGA Tour start finished tied for 36 despite shooting three rounds in the 60s.
A tie for third at the Puerto Rico Open was his only top-25 finish in 13 PGA Tour starts in 2016 but the 2011 Australian Masters champion hit some exquisite iron shots on Friday – including a 7-iron into 18 that brushed past the hole before rolling eight feet past.
Although his recent record doesn’t suggest it, Poulter said that his ball-striking has not been an issue and is simply in need of a hot round with the flatstick.
“I’ve been playing really nicely,” said Poulter, who refers to himself as “half man, half mattress” and was planning a three-hour sleep Friday afternoon to make up for his early start.
“Very comfortable off the tee, very comfortable from the fairway, hitting a lot of decent shots and getting a lot of looks and that’s what I need to convert.
“Making five birdies on the outward nine for the second round was good, just a little frustrated that I didn’t convert some of the putts with the opportunities that I had on the back nine which would have put me nicely up there.
“If I can start converting some of them then I will find myself in position and getting back to the good old days.”