A “FUMING” Ian Poulter is by no means a certain starter at Wentworth next year after another painful experience in the European Tour’s flagship event.
Poulter’s hopes of following his World Match Play victory last Sunday with the BMW PGA Championship title nose-dived when he finished his second round yesterday with a double-bogey seven.
But it was not just the 539-yard 18th and its controversial new stream in front of the green that led the Ryder Cup star to giving vent to his feelings.
On whether he will be back in 12 months’ time Poulter said: “Who knows? I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’ve got no idea.
“I’ll speak freely — many others may not. I don’t like this golf course.
“I don’t have a problem with tough golf courses and level par (his halfway total after a 74) is hanging in there. But I’m walking off the golf course and I’m absolutely headless. Absolutely fuming. It’s not fun golf. You’re watching, you tell me. Is it fun?”
Course designer and major winner Ernie Els defended the course, however. “Wentworth is now a fair and honest test of golf. Make no mistake, in two weeks at Congressional, if you are marginally off, you will pay the price,” said Els.
“So the course is by no means unfair. It was last year, but not this year. It’s a true test of the game.”
Poulter stayed away in 2008 and 2009 because of his poor record and the state of the West Course greens, but millions were then spent on improving the conditions and toughening it up.
“I’ve loved this golf course from a kid. You could be five shots back and had a chance, but you can’t finish eagle, eagle (now).
“That’s the redesign. They got what they want.”
Poulter’s pitch to the par-five last spun into the hazard and he then failed to get up and down with his next attempt.
Twenty minutes later Korean Noh Seung-yul had an 11 on the same hole, while two groups ahead of Poulter his 2008 Ryder Cup partner Justin Rose ran up a quadruple-bogey nine on the 17th.
Meanwhile, Darren Clarke boldly declared his game is ‘miles better’ after two rounds of the championship compared to a similar stage two weeks ago when en route to victory in Majorca.
Despite a bogey at the last, Clarke is well in position to win for a second straight occasion after carding a 72 for a one-over-par tally through two days of the Tour’s flagship event.
“I played nicely again all day but just as I did yesterday, I just couldn’t buy a putt anywhere,” said the Irishman.
Three players — England’s Luke Donald (72), Italian teenager Matteo Manassero (70) and Spain’s big-hitting Alvaro Quiros (67) — share the lead by two strokes on six under par.
But reigning US Open champion Graeme McDowell missed the cut after a 72 left him on five over, a stroke away from playing all four rounds ahead of his Wales Open defence.
Clarke played alongside Manassero and Rory McIlroy, who birdied the last to make the cut at four over par.
Belfast’s Michael Hoey, buoyed by last week’s Madeira Islands Open win, posted a 74 to book his place today.
Esker Hills’ Shane Lowry (72) is at four over par while Ballyclare’s Gareth Maybin recorded a 70 for a two-over-par total, three days before he gets married.
Peter Lawrie is back home in Dublin after missing the cut with scores of 74 and 75 in readiness for his wife to give birth to their fourth child.
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