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As Ian Poulter was plotting to keep a star-studded Abu Dhabi Championship field at bay over the weekend, there was another player hot on the heels of the veteran Englishman – his son Luke!
The 46-year-old showed signs that he is back to his best during the first two rounds of the DP Tour’s unofficial curtain-raiser as he looks to earn a spot at the forthcoming Masters. Poulter, ranked 53rd in the world on December 31, has not been granted an invite to the first major of the season and will need to break back into the top 50 by the next cut-off date in March if he is to add to his 16 appearances at Augusta that include three top-10 finishes.
But to add to the pressure he may be facing at Yas Links, Poulter is also having to fend off a challenge from within his own family, with 17-year-old Luke – who signed with the University of Florida Golf programme last year – edging closer to taking the honours. The father-son rivalry intensified over the Christmas break with a number of ‘friendly’ matches in the Bahamas, with ‘Poults Jnr’ pushing his dad all the way.
“I’m holding him off at the moment, but it will happen one day,” Poulter said. “He should have sealed the deal when we played in the Bahamas a couple of weeks ago, because I was very rusty after five weeks off and he had been playing practically every day.
“He was one-up until he three-putted 16, and we both parred in. We have tied a few times now, and I know the day when he finally beats me can't be far off. I’m 46 now, but I’m determined to keep him waiting.
“But when he does win I know his celebrations will match anything you’ve ever seen from me. And I will plaster it all over social media, because I'll be more proud than disappointed.”
The seven-time Ryder Cup player – who endured a disappointing time at the biennial event during Europe’s record defeat by the USA at Whistling Straits last year – proved he is still capable of mixing with the best after opening rounds of 66 and 72 in Abu Dhabi, the latter a masterful display of iron control with howling gales rendering conditions almost unplayable.
“It was actually quite enjoyable in a sick kind of way,” Poulter told the BBC. “I just had to hang in there.”
“It was like hanging on for dear life. When you feel the wind as strong as it was you would have thought the ball would have been moving, but we didn't have any balls moving on the greens, albeit I had to back off a couple of putts because you were getting blown around.”
Alex began his journalism career in regional newspapers in 2001 and moved to the Press Association four years later. He spent three years working at Dennis Publishing before first joining Golf Monthly, where he was on the staff from 2008 to 2015 as the brand's managing editor, overseeing the day-to-day running of our award-winning magazine while also contributing across various digital platforms. A specialist in news and feature content, he has interviewed many of the world's top golfers and returns to Golf Monthly after a three-year stint working on the Daily Telegraph's sports desk. His current role is diverse as he undertakes a number of duties, from managing creative solutions campaigns in both digital and print to writing long-form features for the magazine. Alex has enjoyed a life-long passion for golf and currently plays to a handicap of 13 at Tylney Park Golf Club in Hampshire.