Poulter: Don't back me to win in Hawaii
IAN POULTER is the first of Europe's Ryder Cup heroes in action in 2013, but this week's Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii is his only appearance until late February.
Part of a PGA Tour winners-only 30-strong field at Kapalua, the 36-year-old has been playing down his chances in the build-up to the £3.5million event - £686,000 of it to the victor.
"I wouldn't be picking me in any fantasy pick or bet this week even with my own money. Slapping it," the Englishman said on Twitter. "It's been a good Christmas."
Poulter, who qualified with his second World Golf Championships victory in Shanghai in November, had a hectic end to last season and after this trip will not be playing competitively again until the first round of the Accenture Match Play in Arizona on February 20.
And in what he calls a "nice easy schedule", he plans only two more tournaments before the US Masters in April. Nine of the beaten American Ryder Cup side at Medinah last September - all but Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk - are also in the opening event of the new season.
Furyk was not eligible, while Mickelson and Woods turned down their places just like Ulsterman Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald, Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia.
Steve Stricker, whose devastating loss to Martin Kaymer ensured Europe kept the trophy, defends the title he won by three shots from Scot Martin Laird last January.
The only three Europeans playing are Poulter and Swedes Carl Pettersson and Jonas Blixt.
Woods and McIlroy both kick off their years at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in two weeks' time.
After entertaining galleries when paired over the opening 54 holes of last year's tournament, McIlroy and Woods will head the battle for Abu Dhabi's prestigious falcon trophy and a share of the event's $2.7m prize purse.