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Poulter seeks final piece in major puzzle

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

(Reuters) - Still feeling a little giddy after a barn-storming finish to his 2012 campaign, Ian Poulter is itching to plug the only hole in his otherwise glittering career resume by winning a major championship.

The fashion-conscious Englishman, widely regarded as one of the best putters in the game, has achieved virtually everything else in professional golf and says landing one of the four majors would fulfill a long cherished dream.

Poulter will launch his 2013 campaign this week at the PGA Tour's season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii and readily admits he has been unable to work out the final piece of the major puzzle.

"I don't know what it takes," the flamboyant Englishman told Reuters in a recent interview. "If it means taking off 20 weeks before playing in a major, then I would take 20 weeks off. If it means playing five in a row to win one, then I would do that.

"I've tried a lot of things but I just need to keep doing what I am doing, to be honest with you. I just need to keep working on the same things.

"You need to ride a bit of luck in these majors at certain times to be able to pick one up. No question, I'd really love to win one."

Poulter rebounded from a slow start to last season with a spectacular run of success and consistency that included three top-10 finishes in the majors and his second World Golf Championships (WGC) crown.

"It was an amazing back half of the season," said the 36-year-old, who sealed a two-shot victory in the elite HSBC-WGC Champions Tournament at Missions Hills in China in November.

"The first part of the year was very solid, then three top-10s in the majors ... I must be doing something right. And then I got to the Ryder Cup and backed that up with some great golf."

POULTER SPARK

Late on the second day of the Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club, Poulter provided the spark which inspired Europe's astonishing, come-from-behind victory over the United States.

The matchplay specialist finished with five consecutive birdies to earn one of two valuable points in the fourballs, giving his team a slim hope of retaining the trophy as they headed into Sunday's concluding 12 singles trailing 10-6.

"I still get goosebumps just talking about it," Poulter said of his scintillating display in the fourballs. "How it happened I just don't know. It all happened in slow motion.

"It was amazing to see the atmosphere change in the team room that night," he recalled. "The spirit, it just changed. Guys were pumped up ... we just felt there was that little glimmer of hope."

Poulter was one of eight European players who won that Sunday and ended the week at Medinah with a perfect 4-0-0 record as his team stunningly triumphed by 14-1/2 points to 13-1/2.

"That Ryder Cup far surpasses anything I've ever felt before on a golf course," said the 12-times European Tour winner.

Four months later, Poulter is ready to launch his 2013 PGA Tour season on the Hawaiian island of Maui in an elite, winners-only field of 30 at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

Asked to outline his goals for this year, he replied: "I've got lots of goals ... keep working on the same things to improve and to get better and hopefully pick up some titles along with that first major."

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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