AUGUSTA, Ga. (Reuters) - Ian Poulter pricked up his ears when he heard a statistic on television that 43-year-olds have only a three percent chance of winning the Masters.
The intense Englishman, who rarely requires any kind of additional motivation, said he was not even sure how the stat was derived but it is clear he will have to overcome the odds to win his first major at Augusta National.
Victory would make him the second oldest Masters champion, behind Jack Nicklaus, who was 46 when he triumphed in 1986.
“I’m happy, I’m confident, as confident as I’m ever going to be for someone who has got a three percent chance,” Poulter told reporters after carding a one-under-par 71 that took him to five under for the tournament, two shots behind the halfway leaders.
“I feel I’m hitting it well. I know a lot about the course for certain pins. I’m just trying to be smart and not take myself out of the tournament, which I’ve done in the past.”
Poulter has a decent Masters record, with seven top-25 finishes in 13 starts.
He has a magnificent short game that he is able to put on full display at Augusta.
At the par-five 13th, his second shot seemed headed for the creek, only to stop on the rain-softened bank. Poulter took advantage of the reprieve, chipping up and sinking the birdie putt.
“If it was three yards left it would have probably come back in the water,” he said.
“So it was a bonus birdie, really, from the second shot. I got the wind wrong ... so I got caught out there, silly mistake.”
A victory for the Englishman would see him join countrymen Nick Faldo (1989, 1990 and 1996) and Danny Willett (2016) in the Green Jacket club.
Editing by Peter Rutherford