Players Championship 2018: Ian Poulter ditching U.S. schedule in favor of Euro Tour to prepare for Ryder Cup

RBC Heritage - Final Round

Tyler Lecka

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla.—Ian Poulter’s victory last month in Houston—his first win anywhere in six years—secured the 42-year-old a spot in the FedEx Cup Playoffs and put him in good position to make a run at making it to the Tour Championship for the first time.

Not that he cares. To Poulter, there’s a more important item on the agenda: Making the European Ryder Cup team. Which is why this week’s Players Championship, where he finished second a year ago, will be one of his final starts in the United States, apart from majors and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, as he relocates to Europe for the summer.

“It's not important at all,” he said of the possibility of making it to East Lake. “My season this year is going to really be focused on playing great golf.”

It will also be focused on the European Tour’s Rolex Series, where the points earned are worth more and multiplied by 1.5 for the two respective qualification lists Europe uses in forming its team.

Poulter, who has typically played a handful of PGA Tour stops through the middle of the year, will instead play the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in two weeks followed by the Italian Open. Then comes the U.S. Open at Shinnecock in mid-June, followed two weeks later by the French, Irish and Scottish Opens leading into the Open Championship at Carnoustie.

After that would come a start at Firestone the first week in August, followed by the PGA Championship at Bellerive. The PGA Tour’s playoffs begin two weeks later with the Ryder Cup coming a week after the season finale.

“It's a massive goal,” Poulter said of the Ryder Cup, which he didn’t play in at Hazeltine, instead serving as a vice captain. “It's on my mind. I think I'll think about it a lot when I get to the French Open. Probably to be there, to kind of sense what it's going to mean, there will be a lot of emphasis on that week to play well."

And the rest of the summer across the pond, too.

“I need to really focus hard on the next three months, four months, big European push," he said. "Obviously there's a lot of points to play for in Europe … so I'm really trying to focus on making sure I make that team and don't have to be a pick.”