2014 U.S. Open: Poulter says your short game better be good

Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network
Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Networkt

PINEHURST, N.C. – When you want simple and straight-to-the-point answers about golf, you ask someone who plays that way.

Ian Poulter completed his practice on Tuesday and took a little time to give his interpretation of what Course No. 2 at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club, the site of the 2014 U.S. Open, will play like.

Having finished T-21st and T-41st in the last two USGA Championships he’s played in respectively, and with a best-ever finish of T-12th (2006), the Englishman who also resides in Orlando, Fla., is the type of player who will play the cards he’s dealt and could make a run at the title being contested at the ‘home of American golf’.

He’s made serious charges before while seeking to win his first major.

Prime examples of that tenacious play include last year’s British Open when he fired a final-round 67 to finish tied for third place overall, or during the previous season in 2012 when he finished in the top-10 in three majors that included the Masters (7th), the British Open (T-9th) and the PGA Championship (T-3rd).

For spectators in attendance, they will be treated to a field of competitors hitting dozens of balls into and out of areas just off the fairway and around the bunkers that will have them looking at each other and simply asking, “how are they gonna‘ hit it out of there?”

Though many may assume that the rustic look of the sand traps and lateral waste areas along the fairways resemble a British course, Poulter, who also lives in Buckinghamshire, England, gave a more defining reference to another Commonwealth country.

“I think it’s very lengthy and very Australian sandbelty,” as Poulter put it.

“Albeit, the grass is slightly different, so the ball won’t run up on certain second shots when you think you might be able to. You have a different type of grass to chip from…you’re gonna’ be playing most of your chip shots kind of into the grain ‘cause the ball’s gonna’ run off. But it plays really, really well.”

Poulter indicated that he was a fan of the course, similar to other players like Rickie Fowler who felt No. 2 appealed to his eye.

“I like it,” Poulter continued.

“I don’t have a big advantage over anyone else. When you look at some of the American players that bomb it, they may look that this golf course plays into their hands. I don’t know. Everybody’s got their own game plan this week and everybody sees the golf course very differently.”

With the temperatures pushing into the mid-90’s during mid-afternoon, there were noticeable dry spots along the fairways as players completing their practice rounds continued to map out as many possible scenarios of next shots as their balls rolled into various strategic and trouble spots.

“When the golf course plays like this, you’ve got numerous options,” Poulter said.

“When you’ve got options, then it plays to all different types of players to give them a chance.”

As much as hot and muggy conditions have dried the course out and shortened it during the first two days of practice rounds, rainfall is expected into the weekend which could lengthen the course back up again.

Being prepared to play under vast ranging weather possibilities is not unusual for a 10-year PGA Tour player like Poulter whose actually been playing for money for twice that period of time.

Instead, he pointed out what everyone watching from the grandstands should see in the play of the individual who eventually kisses and hoists the U.S. Open trophy over his head on Sunday.

“I’m not a weatherman,” Poulter said.

“It’s hard to predict what the weather’s gonna’ do. Everybody’s game plan will be slightly different. I know one thing – you’re gonna’ have to chip and putt the ball exceptionally well. That’s what I do know. Not many people are going to be hitting lots of greens in regulation, so your short game better be good.”