Poulter picking up match play momentum in Texas
Austin, Texas, March 22: Ian Poulter defeated Daniel Berger of the USA to put his fate in his own hands at WGC – Dell Technologies Match Play.
Having defeated Tommy Fleetwood on the opening day, Poulter’s 2 and 1 win over Berger means the Englishman can secure his place in the last 16 over the weekend with a win over Kevin Chappell in his last group match before the tournament moves to a straight match play format over the weekend.
Poulter has this week reverted to using the putter that made him a Ryder Cup legend in Medinah in 2012, and is hoping his incredible match play vibes continue as he looks for a strong finish in the event to secure a place in the up-coming Masters as well as gather some priceless qualification points for Thomas Bjørn’s European Team to face the USA in France later this year.
Rory McIlroy got back into contention following his 2 and 1 win over Jhonattan Vegas. With Peter Uihlein – the man who defeated McIlroy on day one – losing to Brian Harman, McIlroy can advance by defeating Harman on Friday to at least guarantee a play-off to reach the last 16.
There have been some fine performances over the first two days from many of the European Tour’s finest, specifically Poulter, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, Tyrrell Hatton, Francesco Molinari and Alex Noren who have all matched Poulter’s 100 per cent record on the opening two days.
“It was definitely an improved performance. I made many more birdies today than yesterday. Daniel is a tough cookie, I know that from watching Presidents Cup. He hates to lose. So I knew that going out today it was always going to be a tough match. He was never going to give me anything. He didn’t, really. So I had to take the upper hand in that match, be confident. Step up and hit good shots when I needed to and hole key putts. Pleased I got through this one. Obviously another win is great. And I hope to do the same tomorrow,” said Poulter.
“This is my favourite form of golf. It’s the purest form of golf. You are never out of the hole. I feel comfortable in this format. I love it. It gets the adrenaline going early, and there’s nothing better.
“There’s a lot of motivation this week for me. 2018 is a Ryder Cup year. I know if I win several matches this week then I’m going to put myself in a rather nice position on that table. So when you think about an entire season to try and make that and obviously Augusta National, it really is straight in front of you. Now I’m down to five matches. So if I can win five matches then I’m going to be in good position on that list. I’m going to be in good position at the Masters. It changes everything for the season. It’s easy to talk about that and get too far ahead of yourself, but that’s what my goals are.”
Rory McIlroy, who lost his opening match, still has a chance tomorrow depending on what happens in the game behind. “If Brian were to beat Peter, that would make it very interesting going into tomorrow. So yeah, I’m happy with how everything went. I wish I had — I feel like I played okay yesterday. Had the result been different, it might have been a more stress-free Friday. I’m looking forward to the match tomorrow and at least I have given myself a chance to progress,” said McIlroy.
Paul Casey played really solid golf today: “I didn’t make too many mistakes. I made some putts, really nice putts. I still find the golf course difficult. You saw me staring at that shot on 15. I had no clue how to play it. Kyle Stanley showed you how you obviously needed to play it. But the margin for error is so small. Today I just eliminated the mistakes, made some putts and made it very, very difficult for Kyle today.
“I’m a guy that makes a lot of pars, a lot of birdies, and if I ever have a disaster it’s usually something really big. It doesn’t matter as much. It’s just a loss of the hole, you go to the next. It frees my putting up, I can be aggressive with the putts. I played a lot as a kid growing up. That’s all we did. I grew up in Surrey, just outside London, we played each other matches, matches against the other counties and club stuff. There’s some tricks to it. I love it. It’s such a pure form of golf, I really do.”