ENGLAND’S Ian Poulter has declared himself ready to win the Masters, insisting the year’s first Major, which begins today at Augusta, represents his best chance of winning one of golf’s four top prizes.
Most pre-tournament talks surrounds whether Tiger Woods can follow his return to world No1 with a first Major since 2008, or if Rory McIlroy has truly put his dreadful start to the year behind him.
But Poulter hijacked the agenda yesterday by announcing that he feels primed to transfer his Ryder Cup heroics to solo competition and improve on his previous best at a Major, second at the 2008 Open.
“I’ve looked at my stats and I think this is my best chance,” said the 37-year-old, who has one top 10 finish in four stroke play events so far this year, and has made his last eight cuts at Augusta.
“I feel very good about my game right now. I’ve hit the right shots in practice. I generally play the course pretty well. I’m fired up to play well again this year and try to slip one of those jackets on come Sunday.
“There’s no anxiety. I know this week is probably my best chance, so I just need to go out there and perform. I don’t have sleepless nights over it. If I did it’d be through excitement, and I think I’ll be able to play on no sleep come Sunday if I have to.”
In yesterday’s par three contest won by Ted Potter Jr on a play-off, McIlroy finished on five over par, with girlfriend and former women’s world No1 tennis player Caroline Wozniacki failing to provide inspiration as his caddy at the annual curtain-raiser to the main event.
Three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson carded four under par to tie with South Africa’s Ernie Els, Nick Watney, Matt Kucher and Potter, setting up a play-off.
Potter eventually emerged victorious and the 29-year-old will now hope to break the curse of the par three tournament and become the first player to couple victory over the nine holes with winning the Masters title.
Mike Weir, Lee Westwood, Jim Furyk 2:06pm
Brandt Snedeker, Ryo Ishikawa, Justin Rose 2:17pm
Bubba Watson, Ian Poulter, Steven Fox 3:34pm
Tiger Woods, Luke Donald, Scott Piercy 3:45pm
Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Padraig Harrington 3:56pm
Phil Mickelson, Louis Oosthuizen, Martin Kaymer 6:30pm
Rory McIlroy, Keegan Bradley, Freddie Jacobson 6:41pm
All first-round tee times BST