Poulter back sets sights on Claret Jug
Ian Poulter is back in the limelight and he is the first to admit that is exactly where he likes to be.
The Englishman carded a second round 70 to go into the third round on three under par 137 and over the weekend he plans down to chase down the American leaders and go one better than in 2008.
A lot of water has passed under the bridge since Poulter finished second behind Padraig Harrington at Royal Birkdale nine years ago and what makes his current challenge for the Claret Jug so special is that a few months ago he thought he was about to lose his playing privileges after months dogged by injury and poor form.
A lot has been written about how he got his PGA Tour card back after a mathematical recalculation and how he responded by finishing second at the Players’ Championship. Now he is gunning for the major title that has eluded him for so long.
“It feels absolutely marvellous, it really does,” he said. “Walking up 18, just walking from greens to tees was really pretty special today. The galleries were huge and they were really pulling for me. So it was really nice to be in position, keep churning out decent scores and keeping myself on the board.
“The fans are great,” he added. “I'm playing hard for them, as well, because they're giving me a lot of energy on the course.”
Poulter’s 70 included 16 pars, one birdie and one bogey but he refuted the suggestion that it was a stress-fee round.
“It might look very boring on the scorecard, but wasn't from the perspective of how I had to kind of piece my way around this golf course. It was tricky. There was a 35-mile-an-hour wind at times and it was a different wind that we had yesterday.
“The golf course played completely different. Holes that were hybrid, sand wedge yesterday were kind of driver, 4-iron today. So it really was a complete 180.
“I got a nice birdie on 12, but then I made a little mistake on 16. I didn't commit to the shot I wanted to play; it was a shame. I had about a 12-foot par-putt there, and a good up-and-down on the last.
“So it was a solid day's work in the office.”
Now, it’s on to the weekend and the chance for the Englishman to make up for his near miss back in 2008.
“I'm in a bonus week,” he said. “I qualified for The Open. I'm loving it. I really am. This is a massive bonus for me to be in this position. I haven't played a major for a little while. And I can't wait. I'm excited. I'm pumped up. I feel my game's coming back to form.
“So, yeah, I mean I'm ready to go out there toe to toe with anyone this weekend.”