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May 10 2012

8:15 PM

Clear mind paves way for Poulter

Interview: Ian Poulter

Following his opening-round 65, Ian Poulter reflects on his play with John Maginnes from SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio.

By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Ian Poulter spent the last 2 years and 9 months building his latest dream home at Lake Nona. Sunday night, he and his family will finally move in.

Whether or not they’ll have to clear some space on the mantel for THE PLAYERS Championship trophy remains to be seen, but he’s certainly off to a good start following a 7-under 65.

“That's definitely in the top 10 rounds of golf I've ever played,” said Poulter, who had just 26 putts, including nine consecutive one-putts at one point, and eight birdies.

It was made possible, in part, Poulter said because he was able to free his mind of all things extracurricular, including his latest house project.

“All of the hassle and stress is over,” he said. “I can just go out and play golf.”

He did that better than anybody on Thursday, hitting 14 greens in regulation and closing in 31 with five birdies and no bogeys on the back nine at TPC Sawgrass.

This is the second time in three years that Poulter has put himself in contention on a course he called a “proper challenge.” In 2009, Poulter entered the weekend here two strokes off the lead before finishing second to Henrik Stenson, who shot a final-round 66 to win by four.

As well as Poulter played Thursday, he said the round could have been even better.

He was right.

Poulter missed a couple of 12-footers for birdie on the first and sixth holes and bogeyed the sixth when he hit his approach long and left into a greenside bunker. He pitched out to 30 feet from an awkward stance and missed the long par save.

Those were the only blemishes in an otherwise flawless round.

Poulter hit 11 of 14 fairways and didn’t miss a putt inside 10 feet. His 65 was also his best career score by two shots -- in 2009, he opened with a 67.

Still, for Poulter it all came down to having a clear head.

“I do fill my brain full of lots of funny things at times,” he said. “It's nice when that's empty and I can do what it is I love to do, and that's go out there and play golf.”

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