Poulter Pays Tour Debt In Unique Fashion

Before Jordan Spieth was in the crosshairs of the PGA Tour for violating the PGA Tour’s Strength of Field Regulation, which was put into place in 2016 to encourage big-name players to play in events they otherwise would routinely skip, Ian Poulter was the first to run afoul of the provision.

However, the 42-year-old Englishman has already paid his debt to the PGA Tour, even going above and beyond the requirements agreed upon.

The Strength of Field Regulation stipulates that players who are not lifetime members (winners of 20 events) or Tour veterans (45 years or older) must play in 25 events per year or compete in at least one event in which they haven’t teed it up in the previous four years.

Poulter’s victory at the Houston Open dramatically changed his schedule, including his exemption into the Masters, U.S. Open and Open Championship. However, since he had played in those events in the previous four years, they wouldn’t appease the provision, and Poulter knew that.

Poulter Falls Victim To “The Spieth Rule”

“Winning was going to put me in default,” Poulter told the Associated Press. So, he went to the Tour two weeks after his victory in Houston to find out what he had to do to avoid the “major penalty,” which is defined by the Tour as either a fine of at least $20,000 or a three-event suspension.

“I told them, ‘How do you want to go about it?’ I’m going to be the first person, and it’s going to be sensitive,” Poulter said. “I want to give something back so I can fulfill an obligation.”

With his victory in Houston, Poulter earned entry into this week’s Sentry Tournament of Champions, an event he hadn’t played in since 2013, and to fulfill a good faith proposal, he also agreed to play in next week’s Sony Open. 

Poulter explained to the Tour last season that were circumstances different, he would have played in the season-ending Wyndham Championship, but that would require him to play nine consecutive weeks leading into the Ryder Cup in France.

Spieth Anticipating $20,000 Fine From Tour

As a peace offering, Poulter hosted eight tournament guests of Wyndham’s choosing to fly to his home in Orlando to play a round at his home course, share a meal and get a VIP tour of his home office and personal Ferrari museum. 

“We had a great time,” Poulter said. “I played nine holes with each group, we had a bite to eat, and a few of the guys wanted to see the car museum and my Ryder Cup office-homage. I took them through that.”

PGA Tour chief of tournaments and competitions Andy Pazder said, “I would say it was beyond what we would consider an acceptable make-good. To do what he did was just terrific.

“The report we got back was it was an exceptional day.”

So, for a few hours of his time with some Wyndham guests and a two-week start to the season in Hawaii, Poulter has paid his debt. Not a bad deal.