Ian Poulter has revealed how social media abuse affected his renowned levels of self-belief as he tried to retain his PGA Tour card – and expressed his relief at seeing his playing privileges reinstated a week after believing he had lost them.
This was a bizarre series of events even by the standards of this colourful Englishman. Poulter, 41, has vowed to “deliver something very nice” to the American pro Brian Gay who uncovered the points discrepancy which means that both will be able to compete in next week’s Players Championship, AKA ”the fifth major”.
Poulter will be delighted to be in the elite field at Sawgrass, but this dramatic reprieve means so much more than just one week in Florida. Poulter had been busy attempting to piece together a schedule based on the European Tour and the occasional invite on the US circuit and facing an unequal challenge of stopping a slide in the rankings which has seen the former world No 5 drop to 195th.
And all the while the gloaters were coming out in force on Twitter, revelling in the Ryder Cup hero’s fall from grace. Indeed, Poulter had woke up to this chorus of cat-calling every morning in his frantic bid to earn enough FedEx Cup points after missing four months of last season with a foot injury.
Poulter is famous for his confidence but he has admitted that this deluge of derision got to him, with the critics cruelly greeting the end of his career as he apparently came up short in his quest to rescue his standing.
“This is huge, it's such a big difference,’ Poulter said. “This has been obviously a good surprise when you've been under an awful lot of pressure to play golf, you've come under a lot of tricky media questions in the last month; and being subjected to social media abuse, it's been tough. The last month's been hard to deal with. Hopefully it might quiet down some of the interesting people on social media and I won't have to block quite so many people.”
Poulter thanked the PGA Tour for amending what he called “a slight oversight”, but reserved most praise for Gay, the popular 45-year-old whose diligence discovered the disparity in the Tour’s points allocation for players coming back off medical exemptions.
The Tour quickly convened a board meeting and unanimously agreed that there was an anomaly in the system and so Poulter’s membership was restored.
Poulter now plans to play "a condensed schedule" in the forthcoming weeks as he tries to qualify for next month's US Open and July's Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, where he finished second the last time the British major was held there in 2008.