- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Ian Poulter nearly did the unthinkable with his opening tee shot at The Old Course at St. Andrews.
He nearly toe-pulled an iron off the tee at the huge double fairway out of bounds, a feat only performed by Ian-Baker Finch at the 1995 British Open, which effectively sent him into retirement as he battled the driver yips.
“When I walked off that 1st tee, (I thought) is it Ian James Finch or what could this be? It was 5 feet from out of bounds,” Poulter said. “The barrier was in the way, took a drop, and got off to a decent start after that really.”
Poulter made par at the first and by the end of the round signed for 3-under 69, a solid performance after an inauspicious start.
Afterward, he was asked if the boos he received from spectators near the first tee had anything to do with his dreadful tee shot.
“Didn’t hear one,” Poulter said. “I actually thought I had a great reception on the first tee, to be honest. All I heard was clapping.”
When it was suggested that the boos were the result of Poulter joining LIV Golf, Poulter continued to downplay that he was heckled. (The heckling isn’t audible in the video of the shot posted on YouTube, but several tweets by those around the tee noted that Poulter didn’t get a warm welcome.)
“Oh, my gosh, I have heard not one heckle. In three weeks, I’ve heard nothing,” he said.
Ian Poulter almost goes OB on his tee shot at the first hole.
— Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) July 14, 2022
Poulter has been the most vocal player to oppose having his membership suspended by the PGA Tour, and was among the players who challenged the DP World Tour’s ban of LIV Defectors at last week’s Genesis Scottish Open, a co-sanctioned event between the two tours. Eventually, he received a stay of his suspension and was allowed to compete. Poulter noted that he has ignored reading any of the stories being written about the upstart league’s challenge to the current golf world order, and claimed not to have heard R&A Secretary Martin Slumbers’ comments that took a hard stance against LIV Golf.
“Purposely haven’t looked at all. So I don’t want to know. You can tell me, I’m not going to listen. I’m here to play golf,” he said. “This could probably be my last Open Championship at St Andrews. So I’m trying to enjoy it despite the questioning.
“I’m staying out of the way. I’m not reading social media. I just want to play golf, right? I can only do my job. If I listen to a lot of nonsense, then I’m going to get distracted. That’s never going to be good for me. I’ll leave it to the clever people to figure stuff out, and I’ll just play golf.”
Poulter’s round did include one moment that was the polar opposite of his opening tee shot. At the ninth hole, he sank a putt from 150 feet for an eagle two.
“I kind of hit it two cups out to the right,” he cracked. “Longest putt I’ve ever made by a mile. You don’t ever hole those putts. Two-putt from there is a pretty good feat.”
And while Poulter was adamant that he didn’t have hecklers on his opening tee shot – charging that his thousands of admirers must have drowned out the one heckler, if there even was one – he did acknowledge that he heard from a boo bird at 17.
“We always have one out of several thousand people that say something silly most days,” Poulter said.
What did he say to the person shouting at him? “I said there’s always one American in the crowd.”