February 23 2013
By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM correspondent
MARANA, Ariz.—Ian Poulter knew something had to change. In 2012, he ranked 145th in driving distance with a 285-yard average. So the Englishman decided to do some tweaking. Over the last six weeks, Poulter changed every club in his bag with the exception of his Odyssey putter. He put softer shafts in his wedges, to control the trajectory and give a softer feel. Poulter put new hybrids into the bag to replace long irons and hit it higher. Finally, he worked on his driver. Poulter found a combination that added four miles per hour to his clubhead speed and that added ten-to-fifteen yards to his drives. He is averaging 112.48 miles per hour clubhead speed this week and 291.4 yards per drive. Poulter has always been a great putter, as a better driver of the golf ball he becomes a more dangerous opponent.
Friendship: Graeme McDowell is great friends with Shane Lowry. The two had planned to have dinner together on Friday but wondered whether plans should change when they were paired against each other in Saturday’s round of 16. They decided to keep their plans, had a nice dinner that McDowell paid for after losing a flip. Lowry lost the match to his friend but walked some of the golf course to support McDowell in his afternoon tilt with Jason Day.
That’s good: Steve Stricker heard it plainly, “that’s good.” He picked up his three-foot putt on the 16th green. Only, there was a problem. His opponent, Ian Poulter was not the one who made the concession. A fan from the stands had shouted, “It’s good” as a joke and now there was a problem. There are two decisions in golf that address misunderstood concessions. If there is no intent to deceive on the part of the player, the ball is to be replaced as near as possible to the original spot under no penalty. Stricker was attempting to do just that when Poulter said to never mind and did in fact concede the putt. He then proceeded to make a ten-foot putt to close out the match.
Putting: Hunter Mahan is putting well this week and it’s not a fluke. He is top ranked in strokes gained-putting after finishing 14th in SGP in 2012. This week Mahan has hit 43-61 greens and 36 of 48 fairways. His combined ball striking and putting could lead to a successful defense of his championship.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.