Ian Poulter disgusted with his putting

Doug Ferguson
Associated Press

Pebble Beach, Calif. — The golf world has seen Ian Poulter making five straight birdies in the 2012 Ryder Cup to win a pivotal match and swing momentum toward Europe. It has seen him holing key putts in winning a pair of World Golf Championships.

Poulter has seen the statistics. And he didn't like what he saw.

For a guy reputed to be among the best with the putter, Poulter spent the last eight weeks working harder than ever on the one part of his game that wouldn't seem to need much work. Except that when Poulter studied his putting statistics for 2014, he wasn't happy.

"I think too many people comment on putting that's happened probably in the Ryder Cup and seem to think that I'm a great putter," he said. "When you actually dissect the stats like I did at the end of last year, my putting was nowhere near acceptable."

He was No. 172 on the PGA Tour in putts holed from 10 to 15 feet. And on par 5 scoring performance — a large part of that is putting for players who can't routinely reach the green in two — Poulter ranked No. 122.

Perhaps more disturbing was to realize how much it was costing him.

Poulter added a little mystery to self-analysis by mentioning an unidentified player whose statistics were eerily similar from tee-to-green. This player doesn't hit it further off the tee. They both hit about the same percentage of greens in regulation.

"But he holed more putts from 10 to 20 feet than I did," Poulter said. "He won $3 million more than me last year."

Poulter wasn't clear on which statistics he was using — he mentioned 10 to 15 feet, 15 to 20 feet and 10 to 20 feet for his putting statistics — but one possibility for this mystery player is Chris Kirk. Poulter said the player was in the top 10 in the area where the Englishman did poorly. Kirk was in the top 10 on putts made from 10 to 15 feet and par 5 scoring performance. He made about $3.2 million more than Poulter last year.

Poulter's broader point is that his putting has been poor and he is determined to fix it. He said some big tournaments where he made a lot of putts can be a "smoke screen."

"I am a good putter," he said. "But I miss putts, and that's a problem. I'm addressing that right now. … The numbers don't lie. You have to take it on the chin sometimes. You think an area is good and you find out something different from the numbers. They are unacceptable numbers and they will be worked on."