Ian Poulter will fulfil European Tour obligations and sympathises with world rankings plight
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 18/06/20 10:37pm
Ian Poulter vowed to continue supporting the European Tour after expressing his concerns over the impact of the coronavirus shutdown.
Poulter enjoyed an excellent start to the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town as he carded a seven-birdie 64 to share the early clubhouse lead with Mark Hubbard, a round the Englishman described as a "pretty solid day".
The PGA Tour is now in its second week back following a 91-day suspension in tournament golf, but the European Tour does not resume until next month with back-to-back events in Austria followed by a six-week US Swing.
The modified schedule announced by European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley features a number of new and revived events, with a significant reduction in total prize money, but Poulter insisted he would be travelling back to Europe regularly to fulfil his obligations as a member.
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"Obviously, playing in so many countries like Europe do and with what's happened across all of the territories that we play on the European Tour, it's definitely going to affect them more than the PGA Tour," said Poulter, who birdied the last two holes and kept a bogey off his card as he set the early target at seven under.
"I think all of the protocols that go into making us play here on the PGA Tour, it's going to differ in whatever country the Europeans will go to. So I really hope that the European Tour can come out of this Covid-19 time not too bad. It's obviously going to impact them a lot more than it does over here.
"I hope we can support as many events as we possibly can, and obviously, all of the players that do come over here to play, it's our obligation to obviously maintain and make sure we play enough events over there to keep those sponsors coming."
The restart of the world rankings last week did not sit well with many European Tour professionals who are unable to earn any points and, while Poulter sympathises with them, he can see both sides of the argument.
"It's difficult, but what's the right thing, and what's the wrong thing to do in this scenario when you've got 16 of the top 20 players playing here this week? We had six of the top 10 last week playing as well.
"So it feels a little unjust to the guys in Europe that aren't playing, but how can you not have World Ranking points in a tournament like this when you've got this level of a field?
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"There are definitely going to be some guys that have missed opportunities, and it's going to be tough. I sympathise. I don't know what the right answer would have been.
"But, again, if you don't play for any points and somebody wins the first two events, and with this many points on the table I potentially could move from 60 in the world to top 20 with two wins. So it wouldn't be fair if I was in that position either."