Poulter made an eagle and three straight birdies in the middle of his round Sunday. (Redington/Getty Images)
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
GULLANE, Scotland -- Ian Poulter wasn't focused on a number. He just knew he needed to make birdies instead of bogeys on Sunday if he was going to have a shot to win The Open Championship.
After all, he was eight strokes behind Lee Westwood when he went to bed on Saturday night. But Poulter had played in enough Open Championships to know a lot can happen in the final round, and he thought he was playing well enough to stir the pot.
"I felt the way I've played this week, I definitely have put myself in a lot of good positions to make birdies, and I probably haven't taken as many as I wanted to," Poulter said. "So I just felt that if I could stay patient today, take a few chances, don't make silly mistakes, then I could definitely move up that board. ...
"You just realize that Paul Lawrie came from 10 back. There was a six-shot swing in four holes last year. This tournament does it year in, year out, and it creates a lot of drama. You've just got to find yourself in position around the back nine and see if it's good enough."
Poulter put himself in that position, too, when he channeled his Ryder Cup persona and went eagle-birdie-birdie-birdie as he made the turn. The Englishman suddenly was even par for the tournament and the leaders certainly were taking notice.
"As tough as this golf course is to get rewarded with making some putts for birdies, it's a really nice feeling, because sometimes it takes a long time to make a couple of birdies in a row," Poulter said. "Sometimes you just feel like this golf course is beating you up all day.
Poulter bogeyed the 16th hole and couldn't get it back at the par-5 17th but when all was said and done, his round of 67 had moved him into a tie for third with AAdam Scott and Lee Westwood. But he waited around until Phil Mickelson's victory was assured and was among those congratulating his caddy Bones MacKay as the popular lefthander was doing his TV rounds.
"I think I've been frustrated on the golf course in the last few months because I know I've been playing very, very well," Poulter said. "And I don't seem to get frustrated in this golf tournament. I'm here in front of home fans. I really enjoy this event. I enjoy that it's difficult."
But there were times on Sunday when Poulter made it look easy