Time off gives Poulter a Match Play boost

Fri Feb 22, 2013 8:14pm EST
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

MARANA, Arizona (Reuters) - A bold decision to take six weeks off since he tied for ninth at the PGA Tour's season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii has, so far, proved to be immensely beneficial for Ian Poulter.

The fashion conscious Englishman spent much of that time making a few equipment changes and working on his swing, a strategy that has helped him stay unbeaten after the first two rounds of this week's WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

"I think I'm probably more prepared than I've ever been," Poulter told reporters after beating American Bo Van Pelt 3&1 in the snow-delayed second round at Dove Mountain on Friday.

"The equipment change, changing new shafts in all my irons, knocking out a five-wood out of the bag and putting in an extra gap wedge, picking up four miles an hour of ball speed on the driver, I couldn't be any happier coming into this week.

"I couldn't be any happier how I've struck it, how the ball flight has been, my yardages ... If I got beat today, I'd still be walking away thinking that I've made an improvement from where I was six months ago, and that's good."

Asked what had prompted his equipment change, Poulter replied: "When you dive into my stats and look at areas that I need to improve and how the golf courses are set up year-in, year-out, I need to hit it farther to try and stay competitive.

"I also need to hit it higher and stop the ball quicker. If I continue with the same shafts, then it's just not going to happen, so I need to look at ways to try and get better, get a bit stronger."

STEELY FOCUS   Continued...

Ian Poulter (L) of England shakes hands with Bo Van Pelt of the U.S. on the 17th hole after their second round match of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship golf tournament in Marana, Arizona February 22, 2013. Poulter defeated Van Pelt 3 and 1. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan