Ian Poulter is confident the unusual torrential rain which has disrupted practice ahead of this week’s Abu Dhabi Golf Championship will not affect the Englishman continuing his strong finish to last year as he steps up his Ryder Cup bid.
The 32-year-old, who missed last year’s event here after securing a top-10 finish in 2006, is ready to pick up where he left off after finishing 2007 with victory at the Dunlop Phoenix event in Japan, his only win of the year, and with a strong fourth place showing alongside Justin Rose at the World Cup.
Poulter managed to play nine holes of the Abu Dhabi Golf Club yesterday, while compatriot Luke Donald was forced to walk the final hole of his round as conditions deteriorated as the day progressed.
“It was wet and windy and the course is set up really tough so it’s going to be an interesting first week back. I don’t remember it raining too much in the desert since I started playing in 2000 so that’s new, but the weather forecast is good for Thursday through to Sunday,” said Poulter, who was forced to use his caddie’s waterproofs after being caught out by the conditions.
“You don’t take too much notice of your yardage, you are not going to look back on Thursday and think about what you hit in practice on the 13th, it’s all about getting the feel. There are a lot of players here who have been at home in the cold and want to practice so from that point of view it has been disruptive.”
Defending champion Paul Casey, a resurgent Darren Clarke, Open champion Padraig Harrington and Australian world number eight Adam Scott join Poulter and Donald in Abu Dhabi at the start of the three-tournament desert swing, which includes the Qatar Masters and Dubai Desert Classic.
Poulter admits his decision to kick-off his year in the Middle East has been made with the Ryder Cup in mind as he looks to return to the side this year under Nick Faldo after narrowly missing out on the triumph at the K Club in 2006.
He currently sits fourth on the Ryder Cup World Point list, which would secure him a trip to Valhalla later this year, while he is also 13th on the current European Points list.
“It is a nice run of tournaments, it will be nice to get off to a decent start and put some decent Ryder Cup points on the board. It’s going to be a good week, there are a lot of big players playing so there are a lot of world ranking points available,” added Poulter, who has set his sights on playing 14 European Tour events mixed in with 17 in America.
“The Ryder Cup is the aim for everybody this year. I am trying to shorten my schedule down so that I am trying to pick the right tournaments to play with the most world rankings points.
“I want to be in that side as much as everybody else. I missed the last one not by much, but after playing in the one before that I want to make a good start to the year.
“To play a few early tournaments over here and get a good start would be great. I am playing to win. As I finished of last year playing very well I except have a solid year this year.”