The Masters 2013: Ian Poulter aims to build on his Ryder Cup heroics

If Ian Poulter is eventually to retire as a Ryder Cup icon rather than a major winner, he will not lose too much sleep about it.

That, however, will not prevent the charismatic Englishman from trying to convert his team heroics into the kind of form that would give him one of golf's four biggest individual prizes. That quest continues at the Masters this week.

"You can't fist pump on the first hole of a strokeplay event like you do in the Ryder Cup, it's just not possible. Guys are going to look at you like you've gone completely bonkers if you do that," said Poulter, who gave an inspirational performance as Europe defeated the USA at Medinah last year.

"But you can certainly try and use some of that mindset and I guess I used it very well to win the World Golf Championship [in China last November]. I guess I am going to have to continue to work on what is going to make me into that player that can play like that for 25 weeks a year.

"It's about me working in my own brain to get myself revved up as much as I do in the Ryder Cup but do it from within. So it's a complete mindset change and something that I am going to have to think about and continue to work on."

Poulter has now claimed two WGC trophies, something else from which he can draw hope for the Augusta challenge. "My confidence is up there anyway but it was a big tournament, the field was great and it's always nice to have two WGCs in the trophy case as opposed to one," he added.

"Any win is nice but obviously WGCs are pretty special and it kind of opens the door to saying: 'Right, I really have to focus around the majors and see if I can knock one of those off.'"

Three years ago Poulter sat in a tie for the Masters lead after two rounds. A Saturday 74 followed, as did tied-10th place by close of play on Sunday.

Last year, Poulter achieved his best Masters finish when finishing in a share of seventh.

"I wouldn't do anything different to 2010," said Poulter in an interview to be screened in full on Wednesday as part of Sky Sports' Masters coverage. "I would try not to hit it 40 yards left on the 1st tee. That was a poor tee shot, a tee shot that came as a surprise. I was not expecting to hit it pretty much on the 9th fairway from the 1st tee.

"From there I hit another poor tee shot on eight which got me out of position; I was out of position early and that is always difficult to play once you are out of position as your mindset changes. So I wouldn't change, I would just make sure I hit the fairway on the 1st on Saturday afternoon."

Augusta's allure is not lost on Poulter, nor is where he has come from to get here. It is well documented that rather than taking higher education or playing full-time on professional tours, he worked in the club shop until his early 20s.

"For me, it never loses that little extra buzz that you get every single time that you drive down the lane and I'm amazed how good you feel every time they let you through the gate," Poulter added. "I think it's very special to park up, go inside the clubhouse, share your locker with somebody else and sit in the same seat that you've sat in eight or nine times before to have lunch.

"This year I'm going to bring across one of the assistants that I used to work with in the shop and for me that's kind of cool. He's never been there before and he's going to get there and feel the buzz that I feel every time I walk on the turf.

"I've done that over the last number of years and it's neat to share that with friends and family. You know, I do look back at the days in the club shop and think: 'Wow – it's been a fun little road to Augusta so many years in a row.'"

Powered by article was written by Ewan Murray in Augusta, for The Guardian on Sunday 7th April 2013 15.01 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


image: © Keith Allison