Amid rain, Poul­ter takes aim at drought

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - GOLF ROUNDUP AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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.”

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