Ian Poulter is a polarizing figure, especially in the United States. Whether it’s his brash self-belief that has taken him from a pro shop to the PGA Tour or the numerous instances that he’s ripped out and stomped on American hearts during the Ryder Cup, it’s no secret that a certain segment of the golf population enjoys seeing Poulter falter.
Of course, the anti-Poulter segment was none too pleased with the Englishman’s stellar play on Thursday at the U.S. Open and they couldn’t have been happy to see his name climbing the leaderboard again on Friday at Shinnecock Hills, even tying for the lead on the front nine.
Poulter began his day on the 10th hole with a bogey, but steadied the ship and got to 3-under par for the tournament through 16 holes on Friday. Only one shot back of Dustin Johnson’s 4-under par mark, Poulter had his eyes set on the final pairing on Saturday at the U.S. Open when the 8th hole jumped up and bit him.
Three shots on the 8th Poulter would like to have again. We’ve all been there….. pic.twitter.com/RiF5ep8dVj
— UK Golf Guy (@ukgolfguy) June 15, 2018
Facing a 14-yard bunker shot, Poulter bladed his third shot some 50 yards. He then chunked his next two wedges before make a 5’6″ putt for triple bogey. Poulter would go on to bogey the par-4 9th as well to drop back to 1-over par for the championship.
“I think I got lucky with the lie I had, to be honest with you. I was expecting it to plug,” Poulter said of the bunker shot on 8. “I know there’s quite a bit of sand in that trap over there. I saw that in practice, so I got lucky with the lie. No problem. Really, a poor bunker shot should have been 20 feet; a really poor bunker shot. A really, really poor bunker shot to about 30 yards is really poor.
“I was trying to hit the perfect bunker shot. I was trying to nip it clean. I was trying to land it half a yard over the crest to get it to check out. A good bunker shot, I felt like I could hit it to about four or five feet. I didn’t commit to the shot I wanted to play, and that’s the only disappointing thing, really, about the mistake I made.”
What a funny old game this is…
I’m still in a great position after a fumble at the 8th.. T4 going into the weekend is a great position. Yes it could have been better, but time to press on.
It’s not supposed to be easy it’s the @usopengolf 👍🏻👊🏻 pic.twitter.com/atPjRKTOpZ
— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) June 16, 2018
All things considered, however, Poulter enters the weekend only five shots back of Dustin Johnson and now knows better than most near the top of the leaderboard the razor’s edge that can turn a round into a nightmare.
“I’m 1-over par in a U.S. Open,” he said. “I’m not sure how else to look at it. There’s only a couple of U.S. Opens that, if someone offered you that on a Wednesday, where you perhaps wouldn’t take it. I’m right in it. I’m T-4.
“There’s a disaster on every single hole. U.S. Open golf, and especially this golf course, is extremely tricky. So I’m in the hunt. I’m happy.”
Poulter and the 66 other guys who made the cut not named Dustin Johnson will be trying to chase down the World No. 1 on Saturday and Sunday. DJ has built a four-shot lead over Scott Piercy and Charley Hoffman, but a bevy of big names are lurking at 1- and 2-over par including Poulter, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka, Henrik Stenson, Tommy Fleetwood and Rickie Fowler.