Ian Poulter ready to make assault on Volvo China Open

Englishman straightens out his 'confused' game and can't wait to start in 20 million Chinese yuan tournament

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 April, 2014, 10:03pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 April, 2014, 11:51pm

Ian Poulter joked about being "confused and in a strange place" - and he wasn't referring to sprawling Shenzhen.

The Englishman is renowned for marketing his brand and rarely misses an opportunity to come to China - obviously with some strings attached including a six-figure cheque.

But he is gold for golf promoters and joins world number three Henrik Stenson and PGA Tour champion Jason Dufner as the marquee names for the 20th anniversary of the Volvo China Open, which starts on Thursday at the Genzon Golf Club in Longgang district, Shenzhen.

Poulter has yet to set the world on fire this year but said there were "encouraging signs" after finishing tied for 20th at the Masters.

"Obviously the start to the year wasn't as I would have liked. I wouldn't say I got confused - I'm always confused - but I was in a strange place in the sense that I didn't really know what I was doing with my golf swing, which is unlike me.

I seem to have figured it out and have started to play some really good golf
Ian Poulter

"But I seem to have figured it out and have started to play some really good golf. I am still making the odd costly mistake so the results haven't reflected the way I have been playing.

"I am looking forward to keeping the improvements coming this week."

Stenson is also searching for his A game after making a slow start to the year. His preparation for China's national open has been badly hampered by a stomach bug and he will be playing "blind" today.

"I've been under the weather with the flu. I've spent the past 36 hours in bed doing nothing and I'm feeling a bit weak.

"I haven't seen anything of the golf course. I'll try to make the best out of situation, drink lots of fluids and rest up.

"That's the way it goes sometimes. It's never a good time to get ill and I'll try to do the best I can," he said.

Stenson's best is sublime as he showed last year when winning the European Tour's Race To Dubai and the US Tour's FedEx Cup - the first player to do the double.

So his slow start this year is of little concern.

"I'm right on track. I didn't play that great early on last year any way. I feel like I played pretty well at the Masters but didn't get it together as well as it could have been. I'm happy with where I'm at with my game," said Stenson, who finished in a tie for 14th at Augusta.

Dufner missed the cut by five shots at Augusta and took some time off before heading to Shenzhen.

"I've been to China a couple of times," said Dufner, who finished joint second at the 2012 HSBC Champions at Missions Hills in Shenzhen - coincidentally to Poulter.

"I am excited to be here for my first China Open," Dufner said. "The golf course looks great and it's quite tight off the tees, which I like. I haven't really touched a club since the Masters because I needed some time off so it will be good to get some competitive golf under my belt again."

Stenson and Dufner will be paired together in the first two rounds with defending champion Brett Rumford of Australia.

Thirty-three Chinese players, led by Liang Wenchong, will contest the 20 million yuan European Tour-OneAsia Tour co-sanctioned event.