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PGA Tour Confidential: Poulter rallies to win WGC-HSBC Champions in China

Ian Poulter
Ross Kinnaird / Getty Images
Ian Poulter erased a four-shot deficit in the final round to earn his first title of 2012.

Every Sunday night, the editorial staff of the SI Golf Group conducts an e-mail roundtable. Check in every week for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors and join the conversation in the comments section below.

POULTER'S POTENTIAL
Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: Ian Poulter rallied to win the HSBC Champions in Shenzhen, China, on Sunday, collecting the second World Golf Championship title of his career. The star of Europe's Ryder Cup victory, Poulter has shown flashes of greatness before. So tell me: Is the Englishman ready to be included in the elite-player discussion and break through at a major? Or is he just one of those guys who will ride the occasional hot streak?

Jim Herre, managing editor, SI Golf Group: Terrific player. Elite? Depends on your definition. Is Lee Westwood elite? Colin Montgomerie? Luke Donald? In my opinion, although many major winners are not elite, you have to win at least one to rise to that category.

Mike Walker, senior editor, Golf Magazine: I think a more mature Poulter -- he's 36 -- has as good a shot at winning a major as anyone who doesn't already have one. He's good at scoring and good at putting. On a hot week, he can play with anyone.

Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Poulter is one of those guys, like a lot of players on tour, who can win a major if he has his best stuff on a given week on the right course. He can definitely win a major. If you recall, he made a gutsy run at the 2008 British Open, when Harrington won. Is he consistently an elite-level ballstriker? No. But I'd sure as hell not want to play him in singles in a Ryder Cup.

Charlie Hanger, executive editor, Golf.com: Poulter is certainly capable of winning a major. He just has to time one of his hot streaks correctly.

John Garrity, contributing writer, Sports Illustrated: Poulter was fantastic at Mission Hills, which appeared to be as wide open as a municipal park, and he has been an absolute star in Ryder Cups, where the setups are usually soft to encourage aggressive play. The major setups, with the exception of the British Open, tend to be too punitive for him. I love the guy, but I don't expect him to win multiple majors.

Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: I like Mark Wilson's chances to win a major more than Ian Poulter's. Mark Wilson, U.S. Open champion. Which major can you close your eyes and imagine Poulter winning?

Herre: Good point, Michael. I can't see one major that seems like a perfect fit. I guess maybe the Masters because the guy can make putts.

Hanger: If he got the putter going like he did at the Ryder Cup, I think he could be dangerous at Augusta National.

Van Sickle: I don't think the Masters is Ian's cup of tea. Too much of a premium on ballstriking. I'd say the British Open is his best shot. He's a very good scrambler, and in a nice, windy Open where everybody is scrambling, he'd have an edge.

David Dusek, deputy editor, Golf.com: Poulter's best shot would be a PGA Championship, but he might hoist a claret jug someday if he got off to a fast start and fed off the crowd. I don't love his short game enough to pick him for a U.S. Open or a Masters.

Jeff Ritter, senior producer, Golf.com: I'll answer the question with an even crazier question: if he wins that one major, is he in the Hall of Fame? Sounds crazy at first, but then you look a little deeper -- 12 Euro wins, 2 WGCs, Ryder Cup brilliance, that one major. He's approaching Fred Couples territory.

Herre: I wouldn't go that far. Couples has charisma. Poulter can come off as a punk. He's not a one-major Hall of Famer.

Bamberger: "Approaching Fred Couples territory" -- we need a higher standard than that.

Van Sickle: The knee-jerk reaction is, no way. But throw Fred in there or Chi Chi with his eight PGA Tour wins, and it's not out of the question. Of course, it would be hard to vote Poulter in before Monty and his eight Order of Merits.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Is Poulter becoming an elite player? What major is he most likely to win?

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