RBC Heritage

Harbour Town Golf Links

The Loop

Homeland aside, Poulter and Westwood are different animals

April 09, 2010

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- They have much in common. Both are English, of course. Neither so far has won a major championship, although both have come close to Grand Slam success. Both are happily married and both have children. They have shared both Ryder Cup victory and defeat. And, right this minute, they occupy the top spots on the leader board in this 74th Masters Tournament.

There are differences, too. While Ian Poulter -- the ultimate over-achiever -- has, Gary Player-like, been underestimated his whole career by everyone other than himself, Lee Westwood has experienced a bigger variety of expectations.

Once touted as the next big thing in European golf -- he won the 2000 Order of Merit and rose to No. 4 on the planet -- he was soon enough an also-ran before re-emerging as a real force on the world stage.

Where Westwood took the more conventional route to professional golf through representation of his country at amateur level and the winning of the British Youths title, Poulter was famously a 4-handicapper when he joined the paid ranks. Firstly an assistant pro at the Leighton Buzzard club in Bedfordshire north of London, he "sold Mars Bars" before making it as a player. A decade ago, as Westwood was being crowned No. 1 in Europe, Poulter was rookie of the year on something called the Hippo Tour.

What else? Oh yes. Poulter is the one in the funny trousers.

*-- John Huggan *