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Friday, 19 March 2010
Abu Dhabi Golf Championship - Round Two  (Getty Images)
Abu Dhabi Golf Championship - Round Two (Getty Images)

The money was great and the rise up the rankings a thrill, but those two things were not what meant most to Ian Poulter after he became a world champion last month.

"Greg Norman gave me a call, Nick Faldo dropped me a line and Arnold Palmer wrote me a letter," said Poulter in Miami on the eve of the World Golf Championships-CA Championship and his bid to make it two world titles out of two this season.

"I can't express how much it means. It's just so nice - Greg was just off to Asia and took time out of his schedule to call.

"And when Arnie sends you a letter to say he was watching and 'congratulations, well played' it can't really get better than that. 

"I was asked the question straight after I won what it meant and I couldn't answer it, but when you have people you've admired and followed contacting you and saying the things they said it's great."

There was also a text from Ryder Cup Captain Colin Montgomerie among the many other messages and with a third cap in October looking likely, Poulter feels a huge weight lifted.

"I can have fun and I've never had that mindset in a Ryder Cup year," added the World Number Five, who went right to the wire before clinching a debut in 2004 and two years ago was given a wild card by Faldo.

"Winning such a big event so early in the year has taken the pressure off and that's massive."

It has also given him an insight into what winning a Major would be like - and at next month's Masters Tournament he hopes to experience it for real.

He is playing this week and next week, then has the two-day Tavistock Cup and two weeks to prepare for Augusta.

"I'm planning to go up there on the Monday and Tuesday the week before,” he added.

“That way I won't be under pressure the week of the tournament - if I don't want to play I don't have to."

This week could see Poulter become Europe's top player in the world for the first time.

Lee Westwood, the only one ahead of him now at fourth, is looking to make his own move forward, though, and now feels fully recovered from the right knee strain he suffered at home two weeks ago.

"I did it pulling a pair of boots on - something as innocuous as that," said the Worksop golfer.

"I got in the wrong position I guess, but my trainer Steve (McGregor) came over the same afternoon and his assessment was that it would take seven to ten days.

"I nearly didn't play last week (in the Honda Classic) and everything I did there was a big bonus." He finished in a tie for ninth.

Luke Donald did have to miss that event, but is now back in action after his wife gave birth to their first child on February 25.

Daughter Elle came a month early, weighed just over five pounds and it was over a week before she was allowed back to the couple's Chicago home.

"Diane went for the 36-week check-up and because she had pre-eclampsia - her blood pressure was really high - the baby was induced a few hours later,” said Donald.

"I felt bad I couldn't play last week, but when you have a baby your responsibilities and priorities change. I'm sure the sponsors understood."

Meanwhile Ireland’s Padraig Harrington will take some time out after the event to meet President Obama at the White House next Wednesday - St Patrick's Day.

"He's hosting a party for our Taoiseach Brian Cowen and his wife and I'm a guest," said the three-time Major champion, who the following day will be competing at the Transitions Championship in Florida.

"I'm looking forward to it - it's something different. Obviously President Obama is one of the most charismatic people in the world, one of the most powerful people in the world.

"You want to meet these people and see what they are like and get your own judgment on things. You can tell a lot when you meet somebody.

"Plus I've never been to the White House. Obviously he is very keen on golf. He's a left-hander, isn't he? I don't know, maybe we will talk about golf. Who knows?"

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