Amid rain, Poulter takes aim at drought
Ian Poulter controlled his swing, ball and temperament in what he described as “brutally tough conditions” to move in sight of his first worldwide title in 41/2 years at the Scottish Open on Saturday in Irvine.
In sideways rain and strong winds on Scotland’s west coast, clubs slipped from players’ hands, hardy fans’ umbrellas were blown inside out and puddles formed on fairways on the battered Dundonald Links.
A re-energized Poulter relished the links test, making three birdies in his first seven holes before battling the worst weather of the week on his back nine to shoot a 1-under-par 71. He was tied at 9 under overall with playing partner and fellow Englishman Callum Shinkwin, whose 68 was arguably the round of the day given the circumstances, and Australian player Andrew Dodt (69).
“It was a job just to hold the umbrella,” said Poulter, who is hitting top form a week before playing in the British Open at Royal Birkdale, where he was runner-up the last time it was staged there in 2008.
“There’s life in the old dog yet,” Poulter, 41, added, with a determined smile, “and I’m relishing the opportunity tomorrow to go out and get stuck in.”
The last of Poulter’s 14 global victories was in November 2012 at the WGC-HSBC Champions in China.
The Scottish Open is seen as an ideal tuneup for the British Open. Players probably could have done without conditions like they were Saturday, though.
American player Matt Kuchar said a 6-iron went 127 yards.
“I was out there thinking what my friends back home would be doing,” said the Florida-born Kuchar, who shot a 73 and was four strokes off the lead.
Fellow American Rickie Fowler struggled to read the greens and was off line with his wedges in shooting a 74. He was level with Kuchar, who dueled with Fowler for the Scottish Open title at Gullane in 2015. Fowler won with a birdie at the last.
PGA TOUR: Patrick Rodgers is 18 holes away from his first victory. But he knows it probably will take a lower score than the 3-under 68 he shot in the third round for him to win the John Deere Classic.
The 25-year-old former Stanford star had a 16-under 197 total at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill., to maintain a two-stroke lead. He’s trying to become the third player in five years to win the event for his first PGA Tour title.
“It’s going to be a shootout because there’s a lot of birdies to be made out here, and I’m going to have to make my fair share in order to stay at the top,” he said.
Daniel Berger had a 63 to match Scott Stallings (64) at 14 under.
Rodgers, who opened with rounds of 65 and 64, was hampered by a pair of bogeys. But he also had five birdies, and he saved par on the 17 th after hitting his tee shot into the gallery.
“I wasn’t as sharp as I was the past couple of days. So I guess I did a good job mentally to get in at 3 under par,” he said. “All in all, if you told me at the start of the day that I’d have the same lead I started with, that’s a positive thing.”