Poulter breaks off the festivities for Hawaii stopover

 

Ian Poulter is the first of Europe’s Ryder Cup heroes into action in 2013, but this week’s Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii is his only appearance until late February.

Part of a PGA Tour winners-only 30-strong field at Kapalua, the 36-year-old has been playing down his chances in the build-up to the €4.3 million event – €845,000 of it going to the winner – which tees off tomorrow.

“I wouldn’t be picking me in any fantasy pick or bet this week even with my own money. Slapping it,” the Englishman said on Twitter. “It’s been a good Christmas.”

Poulter, who qualified with his second World Golf Championships victory in Shanghai in November, had a hectic end to last season and after this trip will not be playing competitively again until the first round of the Accenture Match Play in Arizona on February 20th.

And in what he calls a “nice easy schedule”, he plans only two more tournaments before the US Masters in April. Nine of the beaten American Ryder Cup side at Medinah last September – all but Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk – are in the opening event of the new season.

Furyk was not eligible, while Mickelson and Woods turned down their places just like Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald, Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia.

Steve Stricker, whose devastating loss to Martin Kaymer ensured Europe kept the trophy, defends the title he won by three shots from Scot Martin Laird last January.

The only three Europeans playing are Poulter and Swedes Carl Pettersson and Jonas Blixt.

In all, this week’s line-up features eight men among the top 20 in this week’s World Rankings.

Woods and McIlroy both kick off their years at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in two weeks’ time.

Tournament of Champions field: Ben Curtis, Bill Haas, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson, Carl Pettersson, Charlie Beljan, Dustin Johnson, George McNeill, Hunter Mahan, Ian Poulter, J J Henry, Jason Dufner, John Huh, Johnson Wagner, Jonas Blixt, Keegan Bradley, Kyle Stanley, Mark Leishman, Mark Wilson, Matt Kuchar, Nick Watney, Rickie Fowler, Ryan Moore, Scott Piercy, Scott Stallings, Steve Stricker, Ted Potter Jnr, Tommy Gainey, Webb Simpson, Zach Johnson.

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