Just when Ian Poulter, the fiery anchor of the ’08 European Ryder Cup team, was starting to grow on us, he pulls this stunt: withdrawing from the Singapore Open because his beloved driver was stolen.
The flashy Brit’s 8.5-degree Cobra Speed Pro S was swiped from a clubhouse in Shanghai during the HSBC Champions tournament last week and a replacement club failed to arrive in time for his first-round tee time in Singapore. “I am really gutted,” Poulter said. “I have been thinking about it for four hours and I have decided to withdraw because my new driver will not arrive on time. "It is disappointing because I did not come all this way not to play. But with so many world ranking points at stake if I played badly (by using a different driver) I may have lost ground." This story won’t sit well with golf fans, or the folks running the Singapore Open. Players are attached to their equipment, particularly their drivers. We get that. (British golf writer John Hopkins, in a piece that defends Poulter—sort of—likened a Tour pro’s driver to “a tailor-made suit.”) But if Derek Jeter lost his mitt, would he sit on the bench and pout? If Lang Lang’s piano collapsed, would he not make do with another? If my laptop crashed … bad analogy.
And, please, if Poulter was genuinely “gutted,” wouldn’t he simply gut it out and play? Hell, this is the same guy who survived four holes at Doral this year without a putter. (Rolling putts with his wedge, Poulter played the closing quartet in even par—and drained a 20-footer on 18.) Philly Mick also comes to mind. Lefty played the first two rounds of the 2008 U.S. Open without a driver, albeit by choice. Packing no more muscle than a 3-wood, he shot 71-75—not brilliant, but hardly the kind of scores that might decimate his World Ranking.
And, please, Poulter’s driver went walking last week. In this epoch of immediacy, Cobra and FedEx couldn't synergize to get him a replacement sooner? And, if not, couldn’t Poulter survive a round or two with a near replica? As if another stiff-shafted Cobra Speed Pro S isn’t kicking somewhere around Singapore—or at least on eBay Singapore. (Hey, whaddya know! And only $139.50!)
Poulter’s going to regret this decision, just like he regretted saying that when he gets his game firing on all cylinders “it will just be me and Tiger.” Tiger, you might recall, won the U.S. Open with a broken leg.
But could he have done it with a loaner Sasquatch?