Ian Poulter interview: ‘You crave the back nine of the Open on Sunday’


an Poulter hopped in the passenger seat alongside brother Danny, the destination Royal St George’s and a first experience of the Open.

It was no more than a practice round, but the impressionable 17-year-old watched transfixed as he got up close to follow the likes of Payne Stewart and John Daly.

“I was like a deer in headlights, I was like, ‘This is incredible, I need a piece of this’,” he said. “I didn’t get to many tournaments, but it was enough to sell me that this is what I’d love to do.”

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Poulter returned home determined to make it to the top — seven years later, he had his second Open experience, this time as a player, having qualified at St Andrew’s in 2000.

He has missed the event just twice since and enjoyed three top-10 finishes, including runner-up to Padraig Harrington in 2008.

“There aren’t many greater venues to experience a top finish than the Open,” he said. “To walk up the last hole at an Open Championship, with a grandstand both sides, to a standing ovation is a pretty impressive sight and personal experience.

“I’ve had that a couple of times, with a runner-up and third, I’ve been in and around the mix to know and feel the excitement and adrenaline rush. You crave being in contention on the back-nine on Sunday.”

At 45, he admits his opportunities of lifting the Claret Jug are diminishing, but the memory of a forty-something Darren Clarke winning the last time the Open teed off at Royal St George’s acts as a spur.

“It’s still very do-able,” he said. “Links golf doesn’t automatically favour the bomber and there are so many different ways to get it done. You have to craft your way around the golf course, and knowledge is key on links golf courses.

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