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Van Brimmer: Finally, it's his play creating buzz

Friday, April 11, 2008
By Adam Van Brimmer
Columnist

Ian Poulter sure is a noisy bloke.

The loud wardrobe. The screaming hair. The cry for attention behind his going the full monty on a magazine cover and trash-talking his peers in an article earlier this year.

He is to British golf what Mick Jagger is to British rock, but without all the hits.

Poulter finally raised a ruckus on the golf course Thursday. He fired a 2-under-par 70 in the Masters Tournament's opening round and enters play today two shots off the lead.

The rub is, he seemed more relieved than inspired by his play. Poulter, who claims to have talent surpassed only by Tiger Woods -- despite never having won in the United States -- needs to prove it over four days, not just one.

Or, as we Americans like to say, if you talk the talk, you better walk the walk.

Poulter's now infamous comments in the March edition of Golf World magazine will haunt him until he does. Poulter posed nude behind a strategically placed golf bag for the cover -- and undressed his peers in an interview.

He suggested that with good play over an extended period of time, he could get to the No. 2 spot in the world behind Woods.

"The trouble is I don't rate anyone else," he told Golf World (UK) . "Don't get me wrong, I respect everyone who is a professional. But the problem is I haven't played to my full potential yet. And when that happens, it will just be me and Tiger."

Some misunderstood those comments as a slight toward Woods. Poulter claimed again Thursday that no golfer can rival Woods.

Whether Poulter dissed Tiger, his comments certainly revealed a cockiness rarely seen in golf. Woods talks smack from time to time but has the pedigree to back it up. When he says he can win the Grand Slam, we believe him. When Poulter hints that he can be a better player than Phil Mickelson or Ernie Els, or even Stewart Cink, we smirk.

After all, if Woods is golf's king, Poulter is closer to being the game's court jester than its prince. He has worn rhinestone-studded shirts on the golf course, for pity's sake. His signature victory came in a tournament named the Volvo Masters Andalucia. Sounds like something they play at the local muni, not Augusta National.

Still, you can't help but quietly root for Poulter. He has taken plenty of abuse from his peers over the magazine article. Lee Westwood recently stepped on a driving range between Woods and Poulter and joked about how nervous he was to be hitting balls between the two best players in the world.

The only thing more annoying than a cocky golfer is a condescending one.

So, here's hoping the only noise Poulter makes the rest of the weekend is with his golf game.

Reach Savannah Morning News columnist Adam Van Brimmer at adam.vanbrimmer@savannahnow.com.

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