Ian Poulter doesn't want a special case made for him, even after he flew from Orlando to Hong Kong last Tuesday just to save his European Tour membership.
After the week of the Frys.com Open, Poulter fell out of the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time since September 2006, leaving him not exempt for the WGC-HSBC Champions, an event he had intended to play to satisfy the European Tour requirement that its members play a minimum of 13 sanctioned events each season. There remained one tournament, the Hong Kong Open, on the season schedule that Poulter hadn't already planned to play. However, the tournament registration deadline had closed. Needing a last-minute sponsor's exemption to get into the event and an assured 13 starts, Poulter got in when 2002 PGA champion and part-time European Tour TV commentator Rich Beem gifted his spot to the Englishman.
Poulter said Tuesday at the Turkish Airlines Open that he doesn't think the participation minimum needs to change.
"I am not going to sit here and turn around and say they need to be slashed to eight, nine or 10,” Poulter said. “Rules have had to be put in place to protect the tour and it’s difficult."
European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley, who is just a few months on the job, is giving thought to reducing or that minimum -- not only because of Poulter, but also Paul Casey and other European-born players who frequent the PGA Tour.
Perhaps the most important reason to maintain European Tour membership is that it is required to participate on the European Ryder Cup team. Regardless of what happens on the membership front, Poulter thinks attaching it to the chance of playing in the Ryder Cup is imperative.
“You can’t expect the European Tour to roll over and allow all their guys to disappear,” Poulter said. “It really is the one thing that’s kept the European Tour together, the Ryder Cup.”