Poulter returns home, getting hugs from Luke and Aimee-Leigh, who are back from school and bouncing basketballs through the house.
Poulter heads to his home gym to work out with trainer Mitch Sadowsky. They started an intensive, five-day-a-week program a year ago, and Sadowsky says Poulter's fitness level since then is "like night and day. He's as motivated an athlete as I've ever been around." The workout is interrupted when Joshua crawls into the gym and starts playing with the weights.
Adjacent to the gym are both a snooker table and a pool table. Poulter won his first billiards tournament at age eight, and he can still recite harrowing play-by-play of the championship match. Workout over, he takes on his son in pool, barking helpful bits of advice: "Pop that in with a bit of top-middle!" Luke does just that and is in control for most of the game, at least until his dad, suddenly interested, pockets four balls in a row. Eventually only the 8 ball is left. Luke blows a chance to end the game and then buries his face in the crook of his arm. "He never, ever misses on the 8 ball," he says of his dad. True enough. Afterward Poulter offers his version of a pep talk: "You need to learn to win. No one is ever going to hand it to you."
Poulter has agreed to do another photo shoot in the soft evening light. Between poses he looks ahead to the Players. He likes his chances because the course is "fiddly," which is to say quirky, and that plays into the hands of this preeminent chipper and putter. Poulter knows the only thing missing from his résumé is a major championship, and the Players is the next best thing. "It pisses me off that I haven't won one," he says. "I still have a burning desire to win more golf tournaments. Big-time tournaments."
A late bloomer, Poulter is convinced his best golf is still in front of him, and his friend and neighbor Graeme McDowell can't argue: "Ian Poulter personifies how in this game there's no recipe, there's no path to success. The path to success is varied and difficult. Superstars in their teens can become lost at sea. Guys can really mature late in life in this game, like he has."
Luke goes out to play a few holes, with Aimee-Leigh at the wheel of their golf cart. She has no interest in playing herself. "Golf is stupid," she says. "It's boring, and the clothes are lame. I'm a girlie girl—they need golf dresses. If I could wear a short, strappy, puffy dress, then I'd play golf." She wants to be a fashion designer when she grows up. With her encouragement, IJP Design is in the process of expanding its line of women's clothing.
Nemer has headed to the airport, and the photographers and their entourages are gone as well. It's a lovely twilight, and the Poulter family gathers on the back lawn, along with the two dogs. Josh waddles around in his diaper, taking heroic swings with his plastic club, which elicits spasms of laughter from the others. "He refuses to walk for anything else," says Katie. "He'd rather crawl. The only time he'll walk is if he has his golf club." All the while Poulter can't stop smiling. This bucolic scene calls to mind a line by Henry Wheeler Shaw: "Money will buy you a pretty good dog, but it won't buy the wag of his tail."
Time to pick up dinner. Poulter slides into the sumptuous interior of his FF, its seats upholstered with IJP tartan. "I remember when I was a teenager, I saw on TV a feature on Greg Norman, and he was driving a white Ferrari Testarossa. I thought that was as cool as cool could be. Who didn't want to be Greg Norman?"
Poulter walks back into the house with a sushi dinner, only to be informed he forgot to pick up the chicken nuggets and French fries requested by the kids. He heads out again, adding strawberry milkshakes to the order as penance.
After bath time Katie puts the kids down for bed. Her hubby slips away to his closet to box up the winter collection of clothes and hang the new spring-summer items. Thirty pairs of pants, 60 shirts and 30 sweaters find a new home, and the equivalent number of out-of-season items are banished to the golf studio. "I have to be busy, or I go crazy," he says. "There are no days off. I don't like to take an hour off."
Exhausted, Ian and Katie head to bed. Naturally, they stay up and watch two episodes of Homeland.
Lights out, at last.
The next morning Poulter will report that he cannot remember having had any dreams. That shouldn't come as a surprise, since all his dreams have already come true.