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April 4 2013

9:17 AM

Poulter's putting good match for course

By Tim Price, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent

SAN ANTONIO -- It’s not odd to turn on a golf telecast and see Ian Poulter sinking a clutch putt to win a match play event. It happened again a little less than two weeks ago when Poulter rolled in a birdie putt to help win a team title at the Tavistock Cup in Orlando.

For Americans, it conjured uneasy memories from last fall of Poulter’s final-hole birdie putt on that Saturday in the Ryder Cup.

“I guess in match play it’s a decisive putt normally,” Poulter said Wednesday as he readies for the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio. “When you hole it, it stays in people’s minds.

“Yet I’ve got more trophies in my cabinet for stroke play events.”

It certainly hasn’t been that long since Poulter bagged a stroke-play event. Just a little more than a month after the Ryder Cup, Poulter won the WGC-HSBC Champions in China. He had top-10 finishes in three of the four majors in 2012 (a third behind Rory McIlroy at the PGA Championship was his best) and, despite picking up a chest infection that has him sounding a bit congested, says he’s ready to contend in San Antonio this week.

He plays Thursday and Friday in a group with Charl Schwartzel and Jim Furyk.

“I haven’t done as much work as I would have liked to have done,” he said. “Apart from that, I’m fresh, I’m ready, I feel good. My game’s in shape. I’m looking forward to this week and really looking forward to next week (in Augusta).”

If the Tavistock performance hasn’t clued everyone in on Poulter’s form this year, he has played in four other events and hasn’t done too shabby. He was ninth at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions (where the wind was blowing as hard, or harder, than it does in Texas), was top 30 at the WGC-Cadillac at Doral and Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard at Bay Hill and made it to the semifinals at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

His putting -- match play or not -- hasn’t left him. He’s 19th in strokes gained-putting this year. That should help on greens at AT&T Oaks that were so severe in the three years since the event was moved here that four of them were reworked in some fashion before this year’s event.

“I think the golf course will suit my game,” he said. “You’re going to miss some of these greens in the wrong spot, and you have to get up and down. I would feel pretty comfortable in that situation in some tight spots.”

All that was left for Poulter to do was some leg work: Because a portion of the pro-am was washed out, Poulter only got through 10 holes.

“I’ll walk out on the course and have a look at those extra holes,” he said.

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