Ian Poulter: “I think (the Masters) is my best chance (to win a major).” (How/Getty Images)
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- It's been more than a decade since a European won the Masters. Ian Poulter hopes he’s the one to change that.
Two of the last three years, Poulter has finished in the top 10 here, including in 2010 when he had a share of the lead at the halfway mark.
“I've looked at my stats,” he said. “I think (the Masters) is my best chance (to win a major).”
One reason: Poulter’s short game. He has one of the deftest touches in the game and also ranks 23rd in putting.
Another: Poulter says he’s longer off the tee this year, having added about 15 yards to his driver after a shaft change that is giving him a higher ball flight. That will come in handy on Augusta National’s par 5s, where birdies are a necessity to contend much less win.
As for why no European has won at Augusta National since Jose Maria Olazabal in 1999?
“We just haven't performed very well, simple,” Poulter said. “And I think the guys are disappointed, to be honest, that one of the guys would have expected to have come through by now. What's the reason for that? Don't know.”
Here are two: Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Between them they’ve won six of the last 13 Green Jackets.
“They are pretty good, those two,” Poulter confessed.
So are the Europeans, though. Five of the top 13 players in the Official World Golf Rankings are from there, which includes Poulter.
Now it’ll come down to how well Poulter can take advantage of certain holes, specifically Nos. 1, 5 and 7, he said.
“Those are pretty key for me,” Poulter continued. “If I can get through those holes, then I feel like this golf course can open up.
“I'm just conscious of the holes that I've played well and I've played poorly, and I need to make a conscious effort to play those good holes well and play smart on those difficult holes.”