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Poulter roars off in his souped-up golf cart, heading for the driving range at Lake Nona Golf Club, which is about 500 yards from his house. With his stereo pumping hip-hop, he tests 10 shafts to find a replacement for the discarded driver. He sets up a Trackman launch monitor, which feeds data onto his iPad. The numbers are helpful, but his eyeballs are the final arbiter. He is looking for a "nice, tight, two-yard draw."
As always, Poulter works in solitude; he hasn't had a swing instructor in years. While screwing in a new shaft, he explains, "You're all alone out there between the ropes. You better be able to figure out your swing by yourself." This self-belief impresses even the world's best players. "If golf was a game based purely on talent, I don't know if Poulter would be top 10 in the world," says Luke Donald. "But because of his cockiness—shoulders back, that walk and talk—he gets a lot out of his game. I think it's good for anyone to watch him and emulate that in a way. You have to hold yourself high, and he does that very well."
"Killed that one," Poulter says, to no one in particular. He has moved on to testing new three-woods, and he has just flown one 257 yards into what he calls a 15-yard wind. Poulter has won a dozen tournaments around the world, including a pair of World Golf Championship events, but he knows his individual accomplishments are not commensurate with his Ryder Cup heroics. Searching for an extra edge this season, he remade his bag, changing out the shafts in his irons, which allows him to hit the ball higher and thus attack more pins. He dropped a hybrid and added a gap wedge, part of a new emphasis on wedge play. He routinely spends an hour hitting wedges to precise distances. "I want to ingrain the different feel of 112 yards and 114 and 117," he says. "The only way to do that is to put in the work. There are no shortcuts."
Poulter returns home, getting hugs from Luke and Aimee-Leigh, who are back from school and bouncing basketballs through the house.
Poulter heads to his home gym to work out with trainer Mitch Sadowsky. They started an intensive, five-day-a-week program a year ago, and Sadowsky says Poulter's fitness level since then is "like night and day. He's as motivated an athlete as I've ever been around." The workout is interrupted when Joshua crawls into the gym and starts playing with the weights.