Ian Poulter: The Player We Love to Hate

Posted by: mike May 2nd, 2017

By Steve Trivett

Love it or not, it looks like we’re going to have Ian Poulter around for a little while longer.

Due to a paper-pushing error at PGA Tour headquarters over in Ponte Vedra Beach, Poulter will retain his fully-exempt status at least until the end of the 2017 season.Ian Poulter

Just in case you’ve been off the face of the earth for the last month or so, here’s what happened:

According to what all of us were told by the Poobahs who run the tour, Poulter, who was playing this year on a medical exemption had to win a little more than $30,000 at the Texas Open to retain his fully-exempt status for the remainder of the season.

He missed the cut – much to the delight of more than a few people who celebrated on social media – an outlet that Poulter himself loves to use when he wants to stick needles into others.

That meant Poulter, the European Ryder Cup ninja, would have to beg sponsor exemptions or play under a very-limited past champion status to gain entry into events.

Not so fast.

Brian Gay, another player who was also trying to regain his fully-exempt status while playing on a medical exemption, dug deep into the PGA Tour policy book and determined that the rule regarding regaining fully-exempt status weren’t exactly the same as they had been in the past.

Up until this year, medical status was determined by money. Now, it’s determined by FedExCup points, and when the PGA bean counters reloaded the figures for both Poulter and Gay, it seemed they also needed to remove their shoes and socks so they count on their toes as well as their fingers.

"Well, it’s unexpected,” Poulter said upon hearing the news. “So I would have to say it’s a nice surprise.”

Poulter is back and able to pick and chose where he will play for the rest of the season. But that’s a double-edged sword as well.

He has to play – and play well – or he’s going to be back in the same sinking boat when the wraparound season starts right after the Tour Championship.

And that’s just a fact of life on the new PGA Tour and underlines the fact that there are more better players now than there have ever been in the past.

There was a time when it was harder to get fully-exempt status than to keep it once you started playing with the big boys.

Not so any more – just because there are a big bunch of kids out there who aren’t afraid to show up every week and win.

Once upon a time – and don’t all fairy tales start that way? – a player could coast along and keep their cards. Given the new rules and the new crop of athletes playing the game now, that just isn’t true anymore.

So if Poulter wants to keep playing he better start playing better.

Because the next time he loses his job it could be for keeps.


Steve is a long time veteran golf writer. He's already on the far side of 70 - which explains how Steve Trivett started covering the PGA Tour in 1963. He's an award-winning journalist who has worked for the Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph, The late great Rocky Mountain News and The Villages Daily Sun. He once carried a single-digit handicap, but his ball striking finally reached the depth of his putting prowess.