Ian Poulter feels game is in good shape before Italian Open return

Ian Poulter joins Nick Dougherty on the range to look ahead to his bid for a third Italian Open title.

Ian Poulter is upbeat about the current state of his game ahead of his bid for a third Italian Open title.

Poulter won his first European Tour event in Sardinia in 2000 and tasted victory again in Rome two years later, with the Englishman now looking to complete a hat-trick of wins in the event this week.

The 42-year-old hasn’t appeared at the tournament since 2004, a year after it was last played at this week’s venue of Gardagolf Country Club, with Poulter relishing his return to the tournament.

“Obviously my first victory many years ago now, when I look back, was one which kind of got it all started for me,” Poulter said. “It’s been quite a lot of time since last playing in Italy, and I’m very much looking forward to this week.

“I think my hair’s a bit shorter, I think I’ve got a few more wrinkles, I’ve got plenty of grey. So there’s a big difference there.

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“In terms of my golf game, I think I’m a better golfer today than I was 15 years ago. I’m mentally the same person, I feel fresh, I’m still young at heart.

“I have a lot to give in golf and for me the big difference is I’m definitely stronger in the mind than I was 15 years ago.”

Poulter won earlier in the year on the PGA Tour at the Houston Open and has also secured top-20 finishes in his last three worldwide starts, leaving him looking forward to an exciting summer.

“I think my game’s in shape.” Poulter said. “When you look at my statistics and my current form from the start of 2018, I’ve played very well, played very consistently.

“Getting the win in Houston was a huge boost – to make the Masters, to set up this summer’s golf – it is something which I’m pretty proud of. The form that I’m in is now about having a strong summer.

“It’s about getting myself in position to make the Ryder Cup team and really enjoy my family time.”

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June 1, 2018, 9:30am

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Watch the Italian Open throughout the week live on Sky Sports. Live coverage begins on Thursday from 9.30am on Sky Sports Golf.