Poulter Hopes To Change Fortunes At "Home"


Europe's Ryder Cup standout, an Orlando resident, looks to build on third-place finish at last year's Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by MasterCard

Ian Poulter said he always tries to stay mindful of charity whenever he tees it up in a PGA TOUR event. "It's a part of what we do, why the tournaments even exist," the colorful Englishman said.

When he plays in the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by MasterCard, Poulter, an Orlando resident, is even more in tune with the charitable mission. Proceeds of the tournament benefit Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies, where Poulter's wife, Katie, gave birth to two of the couple's four children. Lily Mai was born in 2009 and Joshua James last January.

"It's such an unbelievable facility," gushed Poulter, who also has a home in Buckinghamshire in his native England. "It's a neat connection for me, so from the aspect of the charity situation I am certainly one who appreciates what tournaments do for charities. But in the case of Bay Hill, it means a lot more for sure, and I always try to help out and contribute to that cause any way I can."

Poulter, 37, who is a MasterCard ambassador, is eager for his eighth appearance in the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by MasterCard - and with good reason. He is coming off a career-best third-place finish at the Bay Hill Club & Lodge, his first top-10 finish on the Championship Course. Poulter shot rounds of 71-69-68-74-282, seven strokes behind winner Tiger Woods. He had posted just one score in the 60s in his previous 16 rounds before his 2012 effort.

"Frankly, I just wish that I could play better there," said Poulter, who had missed four of five cuts before a tie for 12th in 2011. "The course is 20 minutes from my front door and I am affiliated with MasterCard, so I have a lot to play for. I like the golf course, but for some reason it's been a bit of a challenge for me to put together four good rounds. Almost got there last year. Tiger was too much for us. Hopefully, I can do a little better this year and get to the top. I couldn't think of anything better than shaking Arnold's hand again on a Sunday afternoon after winning his tournament."

The Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by MasterCard, scheduled for March 18-24, traditionally draws one of the strongest fields in golf. The flashy Poulter, who had a stellar autumn that included spearheading Europe's Ryder Cup victory and a victory in the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions late last season, said there's no reason why it shouldn't have a great field.

It has tradition; this will be the 35th edition at Bay Hill. And it has Arnold Palmer, who paved the way for the professional game to grow into the success that it is today all around the world.

"First off, when you play in Arnold's event, you're supporting what he's done for golf and what he's done for the community. Just think about all the people that he's impacted in his life... it's pretty amazing really," said Poulter, who has 15 worldwide titles including two on the PGA TOUR. "I'm not even sure we could list them all. And he's great still for golf. We all love him. Any opportunity you have to come play in his tournament and shake his hand, you should take it and just say thank you to the man."