Golf

Ian Poulter hopes to continue his fine record at Open de France

Ian Poulter hopes the Open de France will spark a decent run of form that will propel him into the world's top 50

IAN Poulter hopes a return to next year’s Ryder Cup venue can spark a rise up the world rankings which could lead to playing seven tournaments in succession this summer.

Poulter has never missed the cut in 11 appearances in the HNA Open de France at Le Golf National, which will host the biennial contest between Europe and the United States – in which Poulter has often been a key figure – in September 2018.

The 41-year-old was third in 2006 and 2009 and fourth in 2012 and needs similarly good performances in his next three starts to claim one of the nine available places at Royal Birkdale via the Open Qualifying Series.

Moving into the world’s top 50 from his current position of 81st would also secure a place in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational ahead of the final major of the year, the US PGA Championship at Quail Hollow.

“I’ve spent a good couple of weeks back home resting, preparing, obviously to come into the series of events right here, which is quite important,” said Poulter, who was second in the Players Championship at Sawgrass in May.

“This week is a week where I’ve performed very well in the past. I’ve had some great finishes in France and hopefully we can have another one this week.

“I’ve got my sights on playing some really good golf over the next number of weeks. It’s potentially a very long schedule I have in the summer and that’s why I’ve taken a couple of weeks off.

“If I can play the way I’d like to play in the next three events, French Open, Irish Open, Scottish Open, somehow make my way obviously into The Open Championship, that’s four in a row.

“I’m playing the Canadian Open, that’s five. If I play and bring myself into the top 50 in the world, WGC is the week after and then the US PGA.

RICKIE Fowler will attempt to bounce back from a disappointing end to his bid for a first major title in the US Open in this week’s Quicken Loans National.

Fowler started the final round at Erin Hills two shots off the lead, but struggled to a closing 72 which left him six shots behind compatriot Brooks Koepka in a tie for fifth.

And although that was his first top-five finish in a major since finishing in the top five in all four in 2014, it came on the back of a closing 76 in the Masters in April after starting the final round just one behind eventual winner Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose.

Fowler is an ambassador for the tournament sponsor and is playing in the event for the sixth time in the last seven years, but will have to come to terms with a new venue.

TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm is hosting a PGA Tour event for the first time since former Open champion Ben Curtis shot 20-under par to win the now-defunct Booz Allen Classic in 2006.

The course has since undergone significant redevelopment which contributed to much lower winning scores when it staged Web.com Tour events in 2012 and 2013, with the winning scores of David Lingmerth and Michael Putnam just eight and seven under par respectively.

“I just want to make sure the game continues to stay consistent,” Fowler said during a practice round on Tuesday. “I want to keep it trending in the right direction, unlike last year.

“This golf course has a good look to it. It’s a ball-striker’s course. So I just want to keep the game simple and keep going forward.”

IRISH IN ACTION

Thursday’s first round tee-times (BST) for Irish players on the European Tour and PGA Tour

HNA Open de France

0720: Graeme McDowell

1130: Paul Dunne

1210: Shane Lowry

1230: Darren Clarke

Quicken Loans National

1854: Seamus Power

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