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Poulter smiling again after Players


Although he was unable to get back on the winning track at The Players championship on Sunday, Ian Poulter came away from TPC Sawgrass a relieved and happy man.

His joint second-place finish with South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen earned him a sizeable $900,000 in prize money and enough points to cement the return of his US PGA Tour card and all of its privileges next season. It also saw his World ranking climb from 197th to 80th

The 41-year-old Englishman, one of the Ryder Cup's most feared competitors and a one time No 5 in the world, missed at least four months of competition after sustaining a serious foot injury last year and although he had managed to get his medical exemption extended, it would have ended with the close of this season.

Now, he says, he is planning a "very long schedule after coming out of "the toughest stretch" of his career - despite the fact that his injured foot is still only "75% right"

"It's been miserable, really hard - but we're getting there," he told the BBC.

After securing a medical exemption to play again on the PGA Tour, he missed the cut in his first two appearances and thought he had lost it last month after failing to win the required earnings in the allotted time.

Fortunately, after an appeal by another player in a similar position to him, the PGA Tour decided its rules "unintentionally made it too difficult" for injured players to get back into the game with the result that Poulter was allowed to continue seeking the points he needed for rest of this season.

At The Players - often called the "fifth major" because of the strength of its fields - Poulter, in contention for a first PGA Tour victory since 2012, eventually finished three shots behind winner Kim Si-woo, the event's youngest champion, securing enough points in the process to guarantee him his tour card next year.

"It has been miserable, there's no other way to explain it," Poulter told BBC Sport.

"When you're taking a break for several months, when your world ranking plummets, when you miss Ryder Cups, when you find yourself in a position chasing down points to try and keep your tour card, it isn't very pleasant at all

"It's obviously been the toughest stretch of my career. We're still working through some things to try and be 100%. I think I'm at 75% right now.

"I can now plan a very long schedule and work out exactly what I'm doing.

"I'm going to have a nice summer with the kids in the UK. I think I'll be playing a lot in the UK this summer."

Neville Leck

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