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August 7 2013

11:14 AM

Poulter needs to focus for all 72


Ian Poulter finished third at last year's PGA Championship at Kiawah Island. (Greenwood/Getty Images)

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- Ian Poulter loves to sleep. In fact, he calls himself "half-man, half-mattress."

To assure optimum slumber, he tapes the curtains in his hotel room to the wall and covers any LED screens on clocks or computers so there is complete darkness. So it's easy to see why Poulter is keen on his 1:55 p.m. tee time in Thursday's first round of the PGA Championship.

"Set my alarm for 10 o'clock and I'll have probably 12 hours kip," Poulter says, using the British slang for sleep. "It's easy. For me, I love sleeping."

Once he steps to the first tee at Oak Hill on Thursday, though, Poulter knows he needs to be at the top of his game.

The entertaining Englishman has had some good finishes in majors of late, four top-10s in his last seven starts, including a pair of ties for third. But while he has responded to the pressure on Sunday, just has he does in every Ryder Cup match he plays, Poulter has just given himself too much ground to make up with mistakes in the first three rounds.

Take The Open Championship, for example. Poulter started the final round at Muirfield eight strokes off the pace being set by Lee Westwood but closed with a 67 that moved him into a tie for third.

He got himself into the mix on Sunday with an eagle-birdie-birdie-birdie spurt as he made the turn. But now with the luxury of hindsight, Poulter rues those four bogeys he made on the last five holes on Thursday and two of the last three on Saturday.

"I guess I just haven't been close enough come Sunday morning," Poulter said. "... So it's about me staying focused for 18 holes and trying not to make those silly mistakes and trying to find myself in a better position come Sunday morning. 

"So when I have got those opportunities and chances, then I'm not four or five back and really hoping the guys up in front falter; it's about me getting myself in position come Sunday afternoon into the back nine and see if I can just press forward.
   
"It's silly mistakes that have been very costly over the years."

Poulter acknowledges that he might not be under enough pressure on Thusday, Friday and Saturday. "It's no secret that I've played some great golf under pressure," the lanky Brit said, noting that the fire will need to come from within.

"I feel that I would have obviously a better chance if I play better on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday and I've got myself, you know, my nose in front," Poulter said. "I think my stats have probably proven that; that when my nose is in front, I've played very well and often I've been able to finish the job off.
   
"I'd like to find myself in that position a bit more often on a Saturday night, because it will stop these gray hairs coming through."

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