SOUTHPORT, England — A British Open championship can be won or lost on the greens. Just ask Sergio Garcia.
Ian Poulter, who averages 30.39 putts per round, has seen his putting average go up every season since 2005. So if England’s golfing peacock wants to hoist the Claret Jug on Sunday, he knows he’ll need to make his share of putts.
To help him get it done, Poulter put himself through a marathon practice session at Royal Birkdale on Monday afternoon. Over the course of three hours, dressed discreetly in black, Poulter hit the same 20-foot putt again and again. To ensure his aim and alignment were perfect, he used an Eye Line, which lays on the ground and has a mirrored surface that allows you to see if your eyes are over the ball and your shoulders are parallel to your target line.
But after missing several putts in a row, Poulter asked if the Eye Line was aimed properly.
David Leadbetter, who works with Poulter, told him the trouble was his right wrist was breaking down through impact.
To help Poulter get a feel for releasing the club properly without breaking his wrist, Leadbetter made him hit putts left-handed. Swinging in the opposite direct and hitting the ball with the back of his Odyssey Black Series i #1 putter, Poulter proceeded to make two of three 20-footers.
After switching back to his normal right-handed putting style, Poulter’s form was noticeably better and he beamed with confidence. "I can’t miss," he said as ball after ball rolled into the hole.
Poulter continued to practice as evening set in, and eventually he wore the grass on the green away in the spot where he addressed his putts (right, click to enlarge). A friend who was watching him said in a thick brogue, "Ian, tomorrow they’ll be placin’ a cement plaque on that piece of ground. You’re certainly not makin’ friends with the superintendent today!"