Excitement builds for Ian Poulter with opening 67 at British Open

Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports

Excitement builds for Ian Poulter with opening 67 at British Open

PGA Tour

Excitement builds for Ian Poulter with opening 67 at British Open

SOUTHPORT, England – Ian Poulter’s 13-year-old son Luke found it hard to contain his excitement in the opening round of the 146th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.

That was understandable considering dad was two under playing the 17th and just one shot off the lead.

Luke got a bit hyper when dad found the fairway at the par-5 hole.

“He could eagle this and finish with a par to get to four under,” said Luke, wearing the sort of trademark tartan trousers that have made Ian a household name. “And he could birdie the last too, or he could go birdie, birdie.”

That’s when grandad Terry stepped in. “Let’s just see what happens,” he cautioned.

What happened was that Poulter found a greenside bunker and nearly holed out for Luke’s eagle. A birdie took him to 3 under and, at the time, took him into a tie for the lead with Jordan Spieth. Poulter also got up and down from another greenside bunker on 18. He holed a clutch 4-foot par putt, gave a little fist pump and strode off the green for a hug with Luke.

“We both get pretty excited,” Poulter said, “but I think I was a little bit more patient than him today.”

The par save at 18 wasn’t as clutch as the one he made at the 10th hole after a birdie at the ninth hole.

“A key hole for me was 10 today,” Poulter said. “I didn’t hit a very committed 4-iron off the tee. Let myself way back in the rough, chopped it forward to 65 yards and the sand wedge shot right there, which I stiffed, you know, that was a good save. After birdieing nine, it would have been a shame to have let that go.”

The fist pump on 18 was a minor version of his celebration nine years ago on the same green. Poulter holed a 12-foot par putt in 2008 he thought might win him his first major, or at least get him into a playoff. Padraig Harrington’s eagle at the 17th put an end to that, and the Ryder Cup star had to settle for second.

Poulter, who qualified for the Open Championship at home club Woburn, warmed up for Royal Birkdale with a performance in the Scottish Open that was exemplary for three rounds. The 41-year-old faltered in the final round with a 74 to finish ninth.

“The adrenaline wasn’t there on Sunday,” Poulter admitted. “It was quite flat in my group on Sunday. You shouldn’t have to get up for Sunday. Every time I made an inroad making a birdie, I gave it away on the following hole. That’s really damaging, very hard to take. I got knocked a few times last Sunday. I don’t intend to be as flat hopefully this Sunday.”

You can bet Luke won’t be flat on Sunday if dad has a chance to go one better than 2008 and win his first major. Grandad Terry might just have to put young Luke on a leash.

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