WENTWORTH, United Kingdom: England’s Ian Poulter is aiming to cement his place in next month’s US Open with a win in the European PGA Championship which starts at Wentworth on Thursday (Friday in Manila).
Poulter, ranked 81st in the world, needs to get into the top 60 of the rankings by June 12—or win this tournament—to reserve his place at Erin Hills in the season’s second major or face heading to qualifying.
The 41-year-old will have other chances to qualify but his confidence is high after finishing second at the Players Championship a fortnight ago and he wants to strike while the iron is hot.
That runners-up spot at Sawgrass stopped a slump which had seen Poulter fall to 204th in the rankings and gave him hope that he can sort out his immediate future this week.
“I am hoping to win this week and then I am in,” Poulter told reporters at Wentworth. “All good things come from winning golf tournaments so if I play well this week and I win then it takes care of that.
“US Open qualifying is a last resort and I am not sure if I will need that resort and I am still not sure if I am going to go over and try and qualify. But I would like to care of that this week – that’s the plan.
“I am in a really good frame of mind and when you are in a good frame of mind generally good things happen.”
Poulter’s career was in a tailspin until his Players performance and that has enabled him to map out a plan for the next few weeks.
“I can’t emphasise how big a week it was,” he added. “From just a perspective of planning, there wasn’t any planning I could really do.
“To take care of my playing rights over there, to take care of moving the world ranking position and to be able to play a string of events in Europe this summer was something I really wanted to do. A few weeks ago I couldn’t commit to that – now I am in a position to.”
Masters champion Sergio Garcia and the injured world number two Rory McIlroy are missing this week but Olympic gold medallist Justin Rose, British Open champion Henrik Stenson, Danny Willett and world number 13 Alex Noren are all on parade along with defending champion Chris Wood.
The field will be playing a much-changed course which has been altered after being the subject of harsh criticism from the players over the last few years.
Twenty-nine bunkers have been removed and four greens, the 8th, 11th, 14th and 16th, have been rebuilt while another five have been revamped.
Wood, who was nine-under par when winning last year, said: “It’s between one and two shots easier a round. It’s a bit of a guess. I’d think you have to be 15-under par this year to have a chance.”