Poulters game finally matches his bravado

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2008, 4:00 pm
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Open ChampionshipSOUTHPORT, England ' Ian Poulter strolled quickly toward the parking lot at Royal Birkdale, his wife and their two young kids tailing along. Off in the distance, they were still cheering for Padraig Harrington as he posed with the claret jug on the 18th green under a slowly setting sun.
 
As he zigzagged between the vehicles, Poulter suddenly challenged his children ' 6-year-old Aimee-Leigh and 4-year-old Luke ' to a race. They sprinted toward the car, daddy getting there first.
 
Poulter threw up his arms, dancing around giddily before they all piled in.
 
Hey, who says he wasnt a winner Sunday?
 
Ian Poulter
Ian Poulter receives the second-place silver salver. (Getty Images)
Nattily dressed and groomed as always, Poulter made his most sustained run yet at fulfilling the lofty expectations he has of himself, most notably spelled out when he was quoted as saying there was no reason he couldnt be No. 2 in the world behind Tiger Woods if he played to his full potential.
 
Plenty of people were amused at Poulters bravado, especially since hes known more what he pulls out of the closet ' he went with the peach-colored slacks on this day ' than what he pulls out of the bag. Sure, he had eight victories around the world, but none on the PGA TOUR. And he never finished higher than ninth in a major.
 
Maybe everyone will stop snickering now. Poulter finally showed a game to justify all the flash.
 
He was No. 2 at the British Open, sending the English galleries into a frenzy as he made a charge that briefly brought him into a tie with Padraig Harrington. Alas, the Irishman played brilliantly down the stretch, with two birdies and an eagle on the last six holes to win going away.
 
But Poulter, who matched Harrington with a 1-under 69 on a blustery, brutal course in the pressure cooker of a major championship, proved he might just be worthy of that high opinion he has of himself.
 
Ive known that I can perform and I can play good, Poulter said. I guess Im just trying to let that come out in me. You know, Ive certainly put in a decent show today. Theres plenty more in me, and I know I can go better. On that side of it, yeah, Im fairly happy how Ive played today, and Ill take a lot of confidence from that.
 
Poulter started the final round six shots behind leader Greg Norman, and didnt appear to be much of a factor when he bogeyed two of the first three holes. But the 32-year-old Englishman steadied himself in the howling breeze, stringing together four straight pars, then pumped up the home crowd by rolling in a birdie at No. 9.
 
With Norman fading and Harrington going through a stretch of three consecutive bogeys, Poulters name began to climb the leaderboard. He made another birdie at No. 11, then sent up a roar that could be heard all the way to Liverpool when he made an 18-footer for birdie at the 16th.
 
The ball rolled toward the cup, pulled right up to the edge as though it was going to stop, then dropped in with one final turn. Poulter let out a scream and pumped his fist several times. At that moment, he was tied for the lead with Harrington, who was playing five groups back with Norman in the final twosome.
 
I thought right then, Poulter said, I had a good chance to win.
 
Harrington heard the cheers and knew who was making a move. He didnt let it shake him, though.
 
When I was walking down 10, I heard a cheer and somebody shouting, Go on, Poulter, the eventual winner would say afterward. First of all I thought, Oh, he must be going well, and then I just put it to the back of my mind. I stayed focused on what I was doing.
 
He would go on to strike a brilliant 5-wood at the par-5 17th. When the ball stopped just 5 feet from the cup, Poulter ' watching in the clubhouse ' knew his chances of winning were nil. Harrington swiped it in for eagle, giving himself a hefty cushion going to the final hole.
 
All Poulter could do was watch the triumphant walk up the 18th fairway.
 
Maybe things would have been different if he had scored better at the 17th, as well as the other par-5 on the course, No. 15. Harrington played them at 3 under. Poulter could only manage a couple of pars, including a three-putt on the next-to-last hole, halting his comeback in its tracks.
 
Even when he rolled in a 15-footer to save par at No. 18, setting off one more big roar, it wasnt nearly enough. Harrington won with a 3-over 283, four shots ahead of Poulter.
 
But the runner-up had no complaints.
 
It was great buzz around the whole back nine, Poulter said. I dont think Ive enjoyed a week as much as I have this week. Its on home soil, the crowd has been absolutely awesome, theyve been driving me on.
 
To start holing putts around the back nine, to hear everybody screaming and shouting and driving you on is a massive adrenaline rush, a massive boost.
 
So, heres a guy who believes he can be No. 2 and claimed that spot at golfs oldest championship, even if Woods was back home in the States recovering from knee surgery. With his gelled-up hair defying the stiff breeze and a narrow line of whiskers running from the bottom lip down to the end of his chin, Poulter headed toward his car ' signing a few autographs along the way, taking in Well done, Ian a few more times.
 
Ive done my best, Poulter said. It hasnt quite been good enough. But Ill be back for lots more of this. Its a nice roller-coaster ride.
 
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  • Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

    The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

    The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

    In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

    Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

    Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

    Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

    By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

    Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

    RISING

    Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

    Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the Web.com, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

    Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

    Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

    Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


    FALLING

    J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

    Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

    Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

    DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

    LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

    Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

    Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

    In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

    "Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via Golf.com). “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

    Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

    "The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

    The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

    "Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

    Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.

    Class of 2011: The groups before The Group

    By Mercer BaggsNovember 20, 2017, 9:00 pm

    We’ve been grouping things since the beginning, as in The Beginning, when God said this is heaven and this is earth, and you’re fish and you’re fowl.

    God probably wasn’t concerned with marketing strategies at the time and how #beastsoftheearth would look with a hashtag, but humans have evolved into such thinking (or not evolved, depending on your thinking).

    We now have all manner of items lumped into the cute, the catchy and the kitschy. Anything that will capture our attention before the next thing quickly wrests said attention away.

    Modern focus, in a group sense in the golf world, is on the Class of 2011. This isn’t an arbitrary assembly of players based on world ranking or current form. It’s not a Big Pick A Number.

    There’s an actual tie that binds as it takes a specific distinction to be part of the club. It’s a group of 20-somethings who graduated from high school in the aforementioned year, many who have a PGA Tour card, a handful of who have PGA Tour wins, and a couple of who have major titles.

    It’s a deep and talented collective, one for which our knowledge should continue to expand as resumes grow.

    Do any “classes” in golf history compare? Well, it’s not like we’ve long been lumping successful players together based on when they completed their primary education. But there are other notable groups of players, based primarily on birthdate, relative competition and accomplishment.

    Here’s a few on both the men’s and women’s side:

    BORN IN 1912

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Feb. 4, 1912 Byron Nelson 52 5
    May 27, 1912 Sam Snead 82 7
    Aug. 13, 1912 Ben Hogan 64 9

    Born six months within one another. Only a threesome, but a Hall of Fame trio that combined for 198 PGA Tour wins and 21 majors.


    BORN IN 1949

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Sept. 4, 1949 Tom Watson 39 8
    Dec. 5, 1949 Lanny Wadkins 21 1
    Dec. 9, 1949 Tom Kite 19 1

    Only 96 days separate these three Hall of Fame players. Extend the reach into March of 1950 and you'll get two-time U.S. Open winner Andy North.


    BORN IN 1955

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Jan. 30, 1955 Curtis Strange 17 2
    Jan. 30, 1955 Payne Stewart 11 3
    Feb. 10, 1955 Greg Norman 20 2

    Another trio of Hall of Fame players. Strange and Stewart were born on the same day with Norman 11 days later. Fellow PGA Tour winners born in 1955: Scott Simpson, Scott Hoch and Loren Roberts.


    WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1956-57

    Birthdate Player LPGA wins Major wins
    Feb. 22, 1956 Amy Alcott 29 5
    Oct. 14, 1956 Beth Daniel 33 1
    Oct. 27, 1956 Patty Sheehan 35 6
    Jan. 6, 1957 Nancy Lopez 48 3

    A little arbitrary here, but go with it. Four Hall of Famers on the women's side, all born within one year of each other. That's an average (!) career of 36 tour wins and nearly four majors.


    EUROPE'S BIG 5

    Birthdate Player Euro (PGA Tour) wins Major wins
    April 9, 1957 Seve Ballesteros 50 (9) 5
    July 18, 1957 Nick Faldo 30 (9) 6
    Aug. 27, 1957 Bernhard Langer 42 (3) 2
    Feb. 9, 1958 Sandy Lyle 18 (6) 2
    March 2, 1958 Ian Woosnam 29 (2) 1

    The best 'class' of players Europe has to offer. Five born within a year of one another. Five Hall of Fame members. Five who transformed and globalized European golf.


    WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1969-70

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Sept. 12, 1969 Angel Cabrera 3 2
    Oct. 17, 1969 Ernie Els 19 4
    May 12, 1970 Jim Furyk 17 1
    May 12, 1970 Mike Weir 8 1
    June 16, 1970 Phil Mickelson 42 5

    Not a tight-knit group, but a little more global bonding in accordance to the PGA Tour's increased international reach. Add in worldwide wins – in excess of 200 combined – and this group is even more impressive.


    BORN IN 1980

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Jan. 9, 1980 Sergio Garcia 10 1
    July 16, 1980 Adam Scott 13 1
    July 30, 1980 Justin Rose 8 1

    Could be three future Hall of Fame members here.

    Editor's note: Golf Channel's editorial research unit contributed.