Ian Poulter’s overriding mood last night was one of relief after his brilliant back nine rescued a decidedly dodgy front nine in his first round at The Open at Royal Liverpool. The Englishman also downplayed any fears over a wrist injury that forced him to go for an MRI scan earlier in the week.
Poulter was four over on his way out but eagled the 10th, birdied the 11th and the final hole to finish the day on one over par and by no means out of contention if he can put together a solid second round this afternoon.
“Obviously the front nine was really disappointing,” admitted Poulter afterwards. “I just didn’t get off to the best of starts. But I’ve been in that situation before and you’ve just got to pace yourself when it’s obviously not going as well as you want and the course is playing relatively easy. You’ve just got to change mindset and hopefully get yourself back in the game. I did that very well round the back nine. Eagled 10, birdied 11. Shame that I hit a fantastic shot on 14 that just dribbled off the edge of the green. I made bogey there but I was delighted to make a superb birdie on the last there to finish the round off.”
Poulter admitted the wrist is not in perfect order and he went for treatment on it last night but also said it had not unduly affected him on day one. “It’s feeling OK,” Poulter, speaking as an ambassador for Stella Artois, said. “It’s not too painful which is a good thing. I can block it out of my mind and go and play some good golf.”
Ryder Cup hero Poulter, who tees off his second round at 2.40pm today, was given an amazing reception on the first yesterday. “It was incredible. Amazing. The UK fans are spectacular to play in front of. They just simply don’t disappoint. They do a superb job coming out in their thousands and they love seeing home players play golf.
“They reward you with a good appreciation of good golf. I didn’t give them that on the front nine but I did on the back nine. So it was a relief to get there in the end.
“Ten was a relief. I actually hit a two-iron off the tee into position. Hit four-iron from there to 20 feet and rolled it in. As soon as I hit the putt it was always pretty much in. It sounds very easy when I say it like that! But eagles are hard to come by.”
Poulter is aware, though, that he needs to up his game today to catch up with the leaders. “I’d like to start as I finished off the first round and continue on that form,” he said. “It’s a long week. And being four over through nine, I knew I was going to have to pace myself. So today, I can’t force it. Just get myself back in the tournament, make birdies. Try not to make any silly mistakes. And if I do that I’ll slowly but surely run up the leaderboard.
“There are birdies out there. The par-fives are on but you’ve got to miss those bunkers. They are penal. It’s almost like hitting it into a water hazard. Some of them all you can do is just chop it out sideways. So you need to plot yourself around this golf course because it’s not easy. You shouldn’t be taking too many risks. There might be times when you have to - but limit the risk-taking until later in the week.” Poulter now just needs to make sure there is a later in the week.
Working with Ian Poulter, Stella Artois is exclusive supplier of Beer and Cidre at The Open Championship at Royal Liverpool this July. Visit http://www.stellaartois.com/ or follow @StellaArtoisUK and use the hashtag #herestoperfection to unlock unexpected stories of dedication and perfection