Can Ian Poulter Keep His PGA Card
When High Profile Players Lose Their PGA Card
The things those of us behind the ropes don’t know about what it took to get on that tee for any PGA-sanctioned tournament. Similarly, most of us know next to nothing about what it takes to stay there once that sacred tour card has been earned. So far as we know, the most legendary payers of our era are safe. Who would take away the right to tour from a public icon? It’s those players who are good at the game but still mortals who have to bear all the pressure. Getting the card can come about in a number of ways. Play in the top 50 of a three-tournament series along with the top 75 amateurs in the country, win a major, win multiple tournaments, occupy a spot in the top 50 lifetime earners, and be 18 years of age by the first round of the season’s first tournament. See? Nothing to it. You can get into all that qualifying drama with a handicap index of two. For Europeans, it is difficult in much the same way, and Ian Poulter knows it. Spending most of last year off the course from an arthritic foot injury has put his tour status in jeopardy. He has had two weeks to make about $144,000 USD to qualify through the earnings route, and should have been in hog heaven after the RBC Heritage last week.
Poulter’s game was reviving itself at the Heritage, and he was more than in contention going into final rounds. However, he faltered at the worst time, and the stick that has gotten him most of his notable achievements, the putter, suddenly gave him the cold shoulder. Perhaps it was the water shot on 10 during the Saturday round that did it to him. He couldn’t get rid of an allligator during the drop, The beast had a ‘lean and hungry look,’ so Poulter sent the caddie to shoo it away – how Medieval. Then he three-putted twice on Sunday, and managed a massive tie for 11th. Alone in 12th would have helped tremendously. Now he has to make $30,000 this week, or his medical extension is kaput.
Getting that tour card is murder, but it’s like Broadway. It doesn’t matter how well you dance, or how beautiful you were in 1965. It’s a ‘what have you done for us lately?’ sort of thing. When Poulter habitually looks up the rankings, he used to find himself in the top 10, once #5. Now, he has sunk to #206. This is a guy who has won twice on the PGA, and 12 times on the European tour, with 4 winning Ryder Cup appearances. Those are perhaps not the numbers he expected after more than once miscalculating by saying he was the only current pro who could challenge Tiger.
So now the rent has come due. It’s $30,000 or rely on sponsors exemptions to get back on the course. For a former #5, that’s a little like begging. Still, his extraverted and often controversial personality might generate enough former star power to get some of those. Not only might Poulter’s card be going away, at least for a while, but his line of attire is folding as well. One of the most garrish dressers on the course, I will personally not miss the Union Jack shirt with Tartan pants, even if it does represent most of an empire. I don’t know if we’ll see him again in the Ryder Cup, but won’t relinquish the memory of him eating cereal out of it. We are told that he will co-anchor a radio golf show on Sirius. He can give his overtness full throttle there.
The card is hard to get, and hard to keep. You can only call in sick for so long, and you can only play mediocre golf for so long. With a rejuvenated foot, Ian Poulter is back in the game, but he’d better hurry, or he’ll be right back out of it.