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Golf Tidbits: Poulter's breakthrough coming soon

11:54 AM, Nov 5, 2012   |    comments
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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Ian Poulter's match-play acumen is well known. His stroke play record pales in comparison.

The Englishman won his second World Golf Championship title on Sunday, which raised his European Tour win total to 12 versus just two PGA Tour victories.

Prior to turning pro in the 1990s, Poulter's game was decent, but not overwhelming. He readily admits that his handicap was about 5 when he turned pro.

For the average golfer, that is a really good handicap. For a professional, that is horrible since a golfer with a 5 handicap averages in the upper 70s. That won't make you much money as a professional golfer.

Turning pro with such a high handicap might explain his match play success. Poulter's had to fight harder than most to get where he is today - the 15th ranked player in the world.

Solid stuff indeed.

If you counted his Ryder Cup record toward the world golf rankings, he'd more likely be ranked in the top six or seven players in the world.

Poulter entered this year's Ryder Cup with an 8-3 record. At Medinah, he romped his way to a 4-0 mark. The four-time Ryder Cupper's 12-3 record puts him among the best Ryder Cup players in history.

Two of his Medinah teammates are right up there as well. Luke Donald is 10-4-1 and Sergio Garcia is 16-8-4. With those three combining for a 38-15-1 record, it's easy to see why Europe has won five of the last six Ryder Cups.

Poulter's match play excellence isn't limited to the Ryder Cup. Two of his European wins were match play events. He won the 2011 Volvo World Match Play title by beating Lee Westwood, Francesco Molinari, Nicolas Colsaerts and Donald.

Despite losing in the first round this year, the 2010 WGC-Accenture Match Play champion owns an 18-9 record at that event.

The question for Poulter is this, when will that match play proficiency turn into major championship success? He fits the phrase "work hard, play hard" to a tee. And maybe that is what has cost him. Too much fun and not enough hard work.

Poulter has five wins in the last four years on the European Tour, two coming in World Golf Championship events and two in match play tournaments.

Outside his two WGC wins, Poulter has eight other top-three finishes in eight full PGA Tour seasons. This year, he posted three top-10 finishes in the four majors.

Poulter is closing in on winning his first major. Now, which one will he win? He seems like a U.S. Open champion because he does well on tough courses and in the toughest events.

And next year's U.S. Open course, Merion Golf Club, should be right up Poulter's alley. The East Course is not overly long, narrow and has difficult greens. If he can putt those greens like he putts at the Ryder Cup, he'll win with ease.

Poulter is a Ryder Cup stalwart, a two-time World Golf Champion and the 15th- ranked player in the world. At this time next year, it wouldn't be out of the question to also be calling him a major champion.

TSENG'S QUIET RESURGENCE

After nearly five months of questions about her game, Yani Tseng has quietly turned things around.

She has finished one, four and four strokes behind the winners of her last three events, while breaking par in 10 consecutive rounds. Tseng has shot in the 60s in six of her last 10 rounds as well.

Gone are the struggles that saw Tseng fail to break par in nine of 10 rounds at one point earlier this summer.

"I feel pretty happy right now. I wasn't really thinking about anything. I just want to enjoy my life and be a happy person and be happy playing golf and not worry about the scores," said Tseng, who obviously wasn't worried about her struggles. "But I'm going to play the best that I can."

Most knew she would turn it around, but weren't sure it would happen this season. There are two more events this year for her to get back to the winner's circle.

Both events have limited fields, but those fields are stacked with many of the best players on the LPGA Tour. If she were to win again, Tseng would erase the bad memories from the three missed cuts this summer with her four victory of the year.

It's always good to have more wins than missed cuts and despite her struggles this summer, Tseng has picked up 15 career wins against nine career missed cuts.

Keep doing what you're doing, Yani, you'll be fine.

MINI-TIDBITS

* Legendary golf instructor Jim Flick is nearing the end of his battle with pancreatic cancer. His death was erroneously reported last week. Among his students were Jack Nicklaus and Tom Lehman, and he was a college teammate of Arnold Palmer, who pushed him to become a golf instructor. His death will be a huge loss for the golf world.

* Tianlang Guan won the Asian Pacific Amateur on Sunday and earned a spot in the field at the 2013 Masters. The 14-year-old - yes, 14-year-old - will be the youngest competitor in Masters history by nearly two years. Matteo Manassero was 16 when he competed in the 2010 Masters.

The Sports Network

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