I saw the New Year in flying to Kapalua Maui for the Sentry Tournament of Champions for the start of a 5-week run (globetrotting from Florida to Hawaii to the Middle East & back home). A great feeling to be back after the last time in 2013, though sad to not celebrate with the family – one of the unfortunate trade off’s qualifying for such an event.
During the off season I had the pleasure of ordering new shirts and visors due to new sponsor agreements and very happy to share the new look:
Visor front @coolsculpting / sides @titleist @footjoy
Shirt chest @auralifestyle
Collars @mastercard @netjets
Sleeves @audemarspiguetgolf @woburngolfclub
Keep a look out on my social media channels for ‘give away’ on my old shirts soon!
My last event was end of November at the World Cup. So although I got some practice in over the holidays it’s been some 6 weeks since I played competitively. Finished T18 after putting myself in a good position for the weekend. At the end of the week there was good and bad news: the good was my ball striking T2 for greens in regulations, the bad – my putting. Felt good and with work on my putting I am excited about the coming season.
So maybe you are thinking – why fly half way around the world at the ripe age of 43? Yes, my birthday was on the 10th January. Well, before the start of the Sony Open the news item broke in the press regarding the number of events I played last year, this is a small extract of the piece: “Part of Ian Poulter’s punishment for violating a PGA Tour policy is spending two weeks in Hawaii to start the new year.
That would be a most literal interpretation of the penalty.
And it only tells part of the story of how Poulter chose to make up for missing a tournament he was supposed to play. Along with adding two tournaments he had not played in the last four years — one of them, happily, was the winners-only field at Kapalua — Poulter hosted eight tournament guests for a round of golf at his home club in Florida, lunch and a tour of the house where he keeps his Ferraris and Ryder Cup memorabilia. “I would say it was beyond what we would consider an acceptable make-good,” said Andy Pazder, the tour’s chief officer of tournaments and competitions. “To do what he did… was just terrific. “The violation was failing to play a tournament where he had not been in the last four years.
The PGA Tour has a policy that players who don’t compete in 25 events must play a tournament where they haven’t been in the last four years. Life members (20 or more tour victories) and veterans (45 years or older) are exempt. Poulter is neither.
The policy wasn’t a problem until the 42-year-old from England won the Houston Open. Suddenly, he was eligible for the Masters. His movement in the world ranking got him into the U.S. Open and British Open. The victory took him to No. 20 in the FedEx Cup, all but assuring him at least three playoff events. And it put him squarely in the mix to make the Ryder Cup team for Europe.
“Winning was going to put me in default,” Poulter said.
Poulter was the first culprit, and he saw it coming not long after his Houston victory. He met with the tour at Hilton Head a week after the Masters.
“I told them, ‘How do you want to go about it?’ I’m going to be the first person, and it’s going to be sensitive,” Poulter said. “I want to give something back so I can fulfill an obligation.”
Poulter told the tour he would be at the Sentry Tournament of Champions for the first time since 2013 (it had been that long since his last tour victory) and stay an extra week for the Sony Open.
“That would tick two boxes,” he said.
And then he offered a day with tournament guests. The Wyndham Championship was one Poulter could have played under normal circumstances, but that would have given him nine straight weeks leading up to the Ryder Cup.
So, he let Wyndham select who they wanted to send to Orlando, Florida”
So, all is well we had a great time, I played nine holes with each group, we had a bite to eat, and a few of the guys wanted to see the car museum and my Ryder Cup office-homage so I took them through that & the PGA were happy!
2nd week of my time in Hawaii and really enjoyed the course. It’s a shot maker course but for the second week in a row could not get the putts to drop. Struck the ball great but with rounds of 69, 69, 66, 68 I finished T33, frustrating start to the year. So now I started the second leg of my schedule across the other side of the world. Well, 34 hours later and 12,000 miles, 14 hours time difference and six hours sleep, why you may ask? To be honest when I understood it was a Wednesday start, I considered pulling out. But I play this course well and a decent start to the year playing 3 events on the European Tour will ease my schedule later with the new calendar having me spend more time the first half of the year in the USA.
I really do not recommend that crazy amount of travel but – hey, an opening 66 followed by two 69’s had me in a good position going into the last day although 5 shots back. Still an outside chance and lots to play for with a high finish. The greens where excellent and I had my speed and line all week putting well. Wind was up on the last day which made it tricky with club selection, but I had a steady round going until the 16th. If some of you saw the TV coverage I put my drive in a penalty area just the other side of the cart path. VERY CLOSE to the path, well, decided I had the shot, though thinking ‘don’t end my career‘. A triple bogey later and that was the end of my run. Birdied 18 to finish T6, so still a good start to the Desert swing.
A short 2 hours’ drive to Dubai Sunday night and with a Thursday start time to catch up on rest. Had the privilege of visiting @sbhroyalautogallery with a friend of mine, what an amazing collection of cars!
I like this course and generally play well so my opening Rd of 67 was very satisfying. Next two days again the putter went cold and kept burning the edges, so a 71 and 70 dropped me down the field going into the last day. Sunday morning brought me great news with my Ferrari 288GTO winning the platinum award and preservation cup at the @cavallinoclassic! A big thank you to @motion_products for the restoration, maintenance and showing the car for me. The first super car of the 5, built in 1985, only 272 were produced, the rarest of the 5 super cars.
So, I celebrated with a bogey free 64, finishing with 3 birdies on the spin to jump me up to a T3, justifying my decision to fly all these crazy miles.
New course, new tournament, new place to play golf and a strong field @saudiintlgolf.
Played really solid the first 3 rounds and the last day was one of my best ball striking days. But the greens were hard to read – being new they just did not take the breaks as they should. Shot 4 under and should have been 6 or 7 easily.
The European tour pointed out on social media I was the only player to finish in the top ten in each of the three Desert Swing events: 6th, 3rd, 6th, so a great start to my season.
From the Middle East 30 hours straight to @yellowstoneclub for a week skiing with the family, so happy to chill after 5 weeks away of great golf.
On the way home I proudly announced that with my good friend @tomhartleyjunior we have organized the first ever tour dedicated to the @ferrari 288 GTO to make the model’s 35th anniversary. It will be a 4-night event that will take place in June on some spectacular roads. Looking forward to sharing the experience with fellow GTO owners.
Coming up another busy schedule with 5 events leading up to the @themasters starting with the @wgcmexico 3rd week of February.
Until next time