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GOLF: Poulter only papers over the cracks.

Byline: By Euan McLEAN

IAN POULTER couldn't pull any miraculous tricks out of his bag as he puffed his way around the windswept Forest of Arden this week.

But the touchy Ryder Cup star DID have one unexpected motivational tool tucked in beside his clubs and gaudy pullovers - a newspaper article.

It seems the Englishman found a line in a Daily Telegraph report of the first-day action as offensive as the trousers he wore emblazoned with the St George's Cross.

So in the golfing equivalent of a manager pinning the cutting to the dressing-room wall before a big game Poulter has been striding around the last 36 holes with it in his bag.

Presumably he pulls it out on the tee occasionally to psyche himself up before picturing the journalist's face on his ball as he smacks it down the fairway.

Interestingly, the offending line, saying Colin Montgomerie must have thought he was back in Wednesday's pro-am judging by how badly partners Poulter and Lee Westwood had performed, appeared in the pages of the tournament's official sponsorStorming off the course yesterday after a one-over 73 put Poulter eight over for the week, his off-the-record comment - it wasn't printable in a family newspaper anyway, folks - summed up his feelings about its author.

Touchy? You bet. But even the smallest throwaway comments can have a top player spitting chips when he's not living up to the high standards he sets himself.

Vowing to have the article laminated for posterity Poulter picked over the bones of a nightmare week - and insisted if the wind stays like this nobody will leave the Midlands with a score under par.

He said: 'The guys are going to struggle out there. If the wind stays the same as today there won't be a player under par by the end of the tournament. No chance.

'Having 30mph winds is not conducive to low scoring especially when the greens are running firm and it's so hard to hit fairways out there.

'Although the greens look extremely good to the eye they are a little bit bobbly which makes it even trickier.'

After a miserable week, you'd think the 29-year-old would settle for even the slightest crumb of comfort.

But not even Tiger Woods missing his first cut since 1998 at the Byron Nelson Classic could console him.

Instead it only offered more ammunition to take a swipe at the Telegraph's pro-am jibe as he spoke with fervour about setting high standards.

Poulter said: 'Tiger misses cuts too, we're all human. Even the best are amateurs at times.

'I can't take any encouragement from this week. How can you take encouragement out of being 70th in the field?

'That's not acceptable in anybody's eyes and if I get happy with lying 70th after three days then my clubs are going to go away forever.

'There's nothing positive to take from unacceptable golf. That's the way it will always be in my eyes

CAPTION(S):

Cross dresser: Ian Poulter in those St George trousers
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:May 15, 2005
Words:503
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