Ian Poulter, who has finished in the top three at both the PGA Championship and the British Open, had hoped to be in contention for a green jacket at Augusta National last week.
Instead, he finished the Masters tied for 20th.
“Overall, I think it was a week that potentially could have been very good, and I just didn’t do the job that I would have expected to do on the par-5s,” Poulter said on The MoJo Show. “They are a massive key to that golf course. Obviously there are a number of difficult holes around that golf course, but before the start of the week, you always look at those 5s. You really have to take care of those 5s if you’re going to be in contention, and I didn’t do that.”
Poulter opened the Masters with a 76, shot a 70 on Friday and Saturday and closed with a final-round 74 on Sunday. He finished +2 overall.
“That’s simply not good enough to put yourself in contention,” said Poulter, who finished 10 shots behind Masters champion Bubba Watson. “I walk away from Augusta National disappointed.”
While some golfers disliked the way in which the course was set up – particularly the greens – Poulter didn’t take issue.
“The course was set up fair,” he said. “Certainly the first three days the greens were very firm and fast, and on Sunday they just slowed them down a tiny bit, which took a little bit of adjusting to. The cloud cover we had on Sunday kept the moisture in the greens. The weather for the week was absolutely perfect, and for the first couple of days (the greens) were getting baked, so they were getting firm. I think they added a bit of moisture on Sunday morning or late on Saturday evening, and the moisture kind of stayed din the greens. So it definitely affected certain putts that you expected to be very, very fast.
“But it was fair. The golf course played really well for the week. That’s how Augusta National plays year-in and year-out. They always get (it) in perfect shape.”
Poulter, 38, has 16 professional wins on his resume, including two on the PGA Tour. His best finish at a major came in 2008, when he took runner-up to Padraig Harrington at the British Open.
“I’m very happy the way I’m playing; I’m very happy the way I’m striking it,” Poulter said. “Obviously, nothing’s really happened to start the year for me in terms of performances. I need to eradicate a couple of mistakes, and I think I’ll have myself right at the top of the leader board very soon.”
Of course, a lot of golfers – and not just the well-known ones – probably feel the same way. Six of the last seven winners on tour were ranked outside of the top 75.
“There’s a lot of good players that can play golf right now. It’s as simple as that,” Poulter said. “If guys are in the top 100 in the world rankings, it’s no surprise to anybody to see them winning golf tournaments. No one’s intimidated when they get out on the golf course, and it’s good to see. The quality of golf that’s being played week-in and week-out is still very, very high and continues to get better.”
That may be true, but ratings for the Masters were down this year. In fact, the ratings were the lowest since 1993.
It’s safe to say that Tiger Woods’ absence probably had something to do with that.
“Obviously, it would have been great to have Tiger Woods play in the Masters,” Poulter said. “Unfortunately, he didn’t. The guy’s injured and it happens from time to time, (but) there’s a lot of fantastic young players coming through right now. I think globally you expect big things from certain players.
“If you think back to the era of Jack Nicklaus,” Poulter continued, “it’s taken several decades to find another player that’s even trying to push Jack’s record. It’s very difficult for people to live up to expectations and go out there and win majors. It might be another three or four decades before we find someone else (who can do that). Or it might be Rory (McIlroy). It might be Jordan Spieth.
“There’s a number of players that can step up to the plate, but I think golf’s in good hands. We’ve got young players who are winning globally. I’m quite excited with the shape of golf right now.”