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Last Updated: Sunday, 3 April, 2005, 17:41 GMT 18:41 UK
Poulter set for Masters challenge
By Rob Hodgetts

Ian Poulter
It's not a daydream [winning the Masters] - it will happen one day
Ian Poulter
Ian Poulter believes he will cope with the pressure if he is in contention down the home stretch at this week's Masters at Augusta.

The Englishman is making his second appearance at the Masters and will have Fanny Sunesson, former caddie of triple champion Nick Faldo, on his bag.

"Everybody in this game knows I've got what's required to do the job on Sunday afternoon," he told BBC Sport.

"I know I can finish a tournament when I'm in the right position."

The 29-year-old, who has become known as much for his flamboyant dress sense as for his golfing prowess, has won at least one title every year since joining the European Tour in 2000.

But for all his pretty plus fours and Union Jack slacks, Poulter is far more than just clothes horse.

He is ranked 43rd in the world and lies third on the European Order of Merit, behind South African superstars Ernie Els and Retief Goosen.

And he heads to Augusta as one of the golfing elite, comfortable in the company of Tiger Woods and Co.

Ian Poulter
The likelihood of someone winning at their second attempt is slim but it's possible
Ian Poulter

"I'm not satisfied yet - there's more work to be done and better results to be had," said Poulter, whose regular caddie Mick Donaghy is taking time off to be with his new-born baby.

"After winning the Volvo Masters last year, I have stepped my game up to another level but I won't be happy until I've won major.

"It's not a daydream. It will happen one day. It's not getting too far ahead of myself. That's just my mentality.

"If I didn't believe I would be able to win the Masters I would fly back to England, pack up my clubs and never play golf again.

"I'm not here to finish second, third or fourth. If I thought that, I would have defeated myself on the first tee.

"I believe that I can win. If no-one else does, that's up to them."

Poulter has spent the early season in America after qualifying for the US Tour by virtue of his place on Europe's victorious 2004 Ryder Cup team.

But two stand-out performances - fourth in the WGC-World Match Play and tied eighth at the Bob Hope Classic, including rounds of 63 and 64 - have been overshadowed by a host of missed cuts.

Ian Poulter
I enjoy the fashion side of things - and I've got some beauties for Augusta
Ian Poulter

"I feel like I'm playing nicely, although the stats don't show it," said Poulter.

"Shooting low scores at the Bob Hope and playing like I did at the Match Play was a huge confidence boost but I haven't taken it on from there."

On his Augusta debut last year, the Hitchin pro carded rounds of 75, 73, 74, 73 to finish tied 31st.

"It was great to finally be there and have the satisfaction of having all the hard work pay off," he said.

"It's very awe-inspiring to be on a golf course that you have seen on TV for so many years, but I got rid of the tourist thing on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday last year."

Since then he has played practice rounds with both Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell and his own dad, who he described as "pretty excited" to be at Augusta.

"I felt comfortable out there and learnt a few new things each time," said Poulter.

POULTER'S 2005 US RESULTS
Players Ch'ship (27/03): MC
Bay Hill Inv. (20/03): MC
Ford Ch'ship (06/03): MC
WGC Match Play (27/02): 4th
Nissan Open(20/02): MC
Bob Hope Classic (30/01): T8th
Buick Inv. (23/01): W/D
Sony Open (16/01): MC

"You can't play the course enough to understand it. The more you play it the better chance you'll have.

"Sometimes a 40-foot putt on the right side of the hole is a decent shot, whereas 10ft on the wrong side leaves you no chance.

"But one thing I'll do differently is change my practice routine.

"Last year, I spent a lot of time hitting balls but this time I'll concentrate more on putting, spending at least an hour a day on the practice green, and learning some of the putts.

"The likelihood of someone winning at their second attempt is slim but it's possible.

"If you hit your irons well and you putt well, you're going to be right up there on Sunday. And I'm hitting it better than last year."

If Poulter does find himself near the lead after three rounds, he may want to think more carefully than most about his choice of outfit for the final day, in case it clashes with a certain Green Jacket.

"I enjoy the fashion side of things. It doesn't detract from my golf. It helps me. If I feel comfortable, I'll play better," he said.

"I'm doing nothing they didn't do in the 1960s and 1970s. They wore pink flares then, too.

"And I've got some beauties."

Poulter: An Englishman in America, BBC Two, 1900 BST, Wednesday 6 April





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