IAN POUL­TER ‘Try to hole ev­ery­thing, be ag­gres­sive and never give up in match­play’

Golf World (UK) - - TOUR TIPS -

Ag­gres­sive strat­egy

If there’s an op­por­tu­nity to get to a green, I’ll go for it. On a short par 4, or some­where that gives the best chance of mak­ing three, I will be re­ally ag­gres­sive in match­play. You’ve got to take on risks. Cau­tious golf doesn’t win match­play ties. You have to hit driver where you can to leave your­self as short an ap­proach as pos­si­ble. If you don’t, your op­po­nent will, and you don’t want to leave that op­por­tu­nity open.

Fo­cus on your game

I’ve heard the the­ory about lay­ing back to hit first into greens in or­der to put pres­sure on your op­po­nent, but I don’t be­lieve in that. If you’re play­ing well you don’t have to worry about hit­ting in first or sec­ond. I’m con­cen­trat­ing on my game. So no mat­ter if my op­po­nent has hit to 2ft or 20ft I’m still try­ing to hit it stiff. If my op­po­nent has hit to 10ft that isn’t putting me un­der any more pres­sure than I’m al­ready un­der as I’m still try­ing to hole the shot.

Ev­ery putt mat­ters

The biggest ad­van­tage to hit­ting in­side your op­po­nent is that ev­ery putt you hit mat­ters. If my op­po­nent has hit to 20ft and I’ve hit to 10ft then I know my putt will ei­ther be to win or halve the hole. I al­ways try to leave my­self a putt to win the hole and that’s why I’m ag­gres­sive when at­tack­ing greens.

Try to hole ev­ery­thing

I try to hole ev­ery shot I hit to a green in match­play – from ap­proaches to putts. If it’s a 2ft putt or a 40ft putt, I’m try­ing to make it, not just get it close. That’s why I will al­ways chip ag­gres­sively in match­play and very rarely leave it short. When they go in they can be a killer for some play­ers if they weren’t ex­pect­ing you to make it.

Make them hole-out

I’ve heard this idea about giv­ing putts early to pile the pres­sure on later, but it’s ab­so­lute non­sense. If you give a two to three-foot putt a player is en­ti­tled to put the ball down and hit it as a prac­tice any­way, so it’s ir­rel­e­vant. Make them hole ev­ery­thing but a sim­ple tap-in ev­ery time.

Ex­pect the un­ex­pected

As much as I’m try­ing to hole ev­ery­thing I al­ways ex­pect my op­po­nent to do the same. Even if it looks as though your op­po­nent is out of the hole, you still have to play ag­gres­sively and ex­pect them to hole their next shot. How­ever, there are times when you have to be sen­si­ble. Birdies are what win holes but if your op­po­nent has hit it in the wa­ter and the best they can do is bo­gey there is no point be­ing overly ag­gres­sive and bring­ing in an er­ror for them to get off the hook. Take par if that’s what you need to win the hole – just keep your op­po­nent un­der pres­sure.

Don’t give the hole away

There will be times when you hit a poor shot – just make sure your next one is a good one. If a poor drive forces you to lay up, hit your ap­proach in­side your op­po­nent so they have to work to win the hole. If you miss a green, hit your chip close. There’s noth­ing worse than giv­ing a hole to your op­po­nent.

It’s never over

Even if you’re five up or five down, it’s never over. I’ll play ag­gres­sively ei­ther way, be­cause we’ve seen lots of matches won from what looked like los­ing po­si­tions. Some­times there is noth­ing you can do if some­one goes birdie, birdie, birdie on you. They might come out fir­ing but you must con­tinue to play pos­i­tively and try to win ev­ery hole. Stay pos­i­tive.

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