In the end, Ian Poulter will wind up making one more European Tour start than he planned this year.
Poulter is now in the field for next week’s WGC-HSBC Champions, getting into the field as the sixth alternate. The Englishman, who was the sixth alternate into the China event, got in when Brandt Snedeker declined to play.
In other words, Poulter didn’t have to make a last-minute dash last week to travel halfway around the world.
After the week of the Frys.com Open and Portugal Masters, Poulter fell out of the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time since September 2006, meaning he would be left out of the final World Golf Championships event of the year. Since the 2012 winner had planned on competing in the event to satisfy the European Tour’s 13-event participation minimum, Poulter was suddenly one event short.
The European Tour schedule had four other remaining events on the schedule, and Poulter had committed to play in three of the four. Only one tournament, the UBS Hong Kong Open, remained on the schedule that Poulter hadn’t planned on playing. However, the open tournament deadline had already closed, and Poulter could only get into the event with a sponsor’s exemption. Rich Beem, the 2002 PGA champion, had one of those exemptions and effectively gifted it to Poulter so he could play, retain his European Tour membership and remain eligible for the 2016 European Ryder Cup team.
Poulter played well for the first two days in Hong Kong, getting into contention on the course he won at in 2010. However, he ran out of gas on the weekend and finished T-29. Through two rounds of this week’s Turkish Airlines Open, Poulter is T-25, nine shots behind leader Jaco Van Zyl.