Poulter for a Major and why I’d ban belly putters

Sam Torrance
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RYDER Cup star Ian Poulter reminded everyone that he is far from being just a great matchplay competitor with a fantastic win at the WGC Champions event in China on Sunday.

Poulter had some catching up to do after the first two days but produced successive rounds of 65 to overtake the likes of fellow Englishman Lee Westwood and finish on 21 under par.

That sort of performance, like those when he inspired Europe to success at the Ryder Cup earlier this year, are testament to his tremendous confidence and self-belief – and of course that he is a great player.

Victory has moved him up to 15th in the world rankings and I expect that he will soon be back in the top 10, while his consistent improvement means I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he won a Major next year.

The other person grabbing the headlines at the weekend was 14-year-old Chinese prodigy Guan Tianlang, whose win at the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship earned him a place at next year’s Masters. It’s a magnificent achievement, one that means he is set to become the youngest player ever at Augusta, and further evidence of the enormous pool of incredible talent coming through in Asia.

Another 14-year-old from China, Andy Zhang, made his Major debut at this year’s US Open, while Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa and South Korean Noh Seung-Yul also emerged while still at school. Last year at the China Open some of us played nine holes with groups of juniors. Afterwards we could not stop talking about how brilliant some of the technique was in kids aged eight or nine.

I’ve said before that the men’s game will soon be dominated by Asian players in the same way the women’s circuit is. They are catching up with Europe and they are going to be huge in 10-15 years.

Finally, an old subject that I have been asked about for 25 years has reared its head again, with some leading players upset at suggestions that long putters, which I have used, could be banned. I’m loath to get into it too much until that actually comes about, but what I think will happen is that long putters will be allowed, while those that sit against the belly could be outlawed.

I’d agree with that move. Belly putters are dodgy because they give you an advantage. It’s like holding a pencil against a wall when drawing a semi-circle – if you have a fulcrum then you are more likely to get an even drawing each time than by going freehand. Belly-putters, anchored against the body, offer the same help.

Sam Torrance OBE is a multiple Ryder Cup-winning golfer and media commentator. Follow him on Twitter @torrancesam