Anger fires Poulter to lead at WGC-Bridgestone Invitational
August 02, 2018
By Ben Everill , PGATOUR.COM
Ian Poulter’s 144-yard approach sets up at Bridgestone
AKRON, Ohio. – Everyone knows Ian Poulter plays better when he’s angry.
And it came to pass again when he opened the World Golf Championships – Bridgestone Invitational with a bogey-free 8-under 62 to lead by one.
Usually the Englishman finds a villain, or deliberately becomes one, to help fire him up into his best golf.
Case in point was earlier this season.
After making it through to the quarterfinals of the World Golf Championships – Dell Technologies Match Play Poulter was incorrectly informed he had done enough to qualify for the Masters via his world ranking.
Just prior to his next match he was given the real news and promptly lost heavily to Kevin Kisner.
He was furious at those who had passed on the incorrect message and internalized the anger. Used it to fuel him.
It meant the only ticket in was to win the Houston Open.
Despite being as mad as a cut snake Poulter actually did it with the huge chest beating birdie on the 72nd hole to get into a playoff and ultimately win a highlight of the season.
Fast forward to the lead up this week at Firestone Country Club and Poulter was feeling decent heading into the tournament.
Then he looked at his past results. In 13 prior starts his best finish is a tie for 13th in 2001 and 2006.
His mood changed.
“It fires me up. I mean, it's frustrating to look at,” he said.
“I actually thought I had a better finish than that, so it really annoyed me.
“For some reason I thought I finished second, but I didn't know how mistaken I was when I looked at all the numbers.
“I wrote them all down, they were that bad. I was like seriously, how can you play a good golf course this many times and not really have a result. Not to even finish in the top‑10 is pretty poor.”
He’s certainly started well enough to change that.
LYLE SUPPORT SHOWN WITH YELLOW RIBBONS ... Players and caddies sported yellow ribbons in support of former TOUR player Jarrod Lyle who made the agonizing decision to cease his cancer treatments and go in to palliative care early this week in Australia.
Lyle, a two-time winner on the Web.Com Tour, has been struck down with acute myeloid leukemia three times in his 36 years.
It has been an extremely emotional time for the entire TOUR family, particularly Lyle’s fellow Australians.
As such, the 5-under rounds of 65 from Marc Leishman and Jason Day felt that little extra special as they chase a victory they’d like to dedicate his way.
“A big part of me wants to win it (for him),” Leishman said.
“That would be very nice to obviously have a good week for myself, but it would be great to have a beer out of that trophy for him.
“You don't really need extra motivation, but if there was any, that's a pretty good reason.
“It's a very sad week. A good friend of mine battling as hard as he is, it's tough. We've just got to hope that he stays strong and his family stays strong and we'll support them and give them whatever they need.”
But the emotion and support certainly weren’t limited to those from down under.
Adam Scott was buoyed by multiple players from all nationalities talking about ensuring the future of Lyle’s two young daughters – six-year-old Lusi and two-year-old Gemma.
"We’ve all got him on our minds for sure and in fairness, it's not just the Aussie boys," Scott said.
"Everyone was talking about him this morning and what they're trying to do for him and his family, which is so nice because he's touched everyone out here."
FOWLER PUTS THE FOOT DOWN ... Rickie Fowler has been burned by Firestone South before so he was licking his chops when he saw the course playing a little softer and more receptive during the morning wave.
It confirmed Fowler’s preferred game plan of attack as he looks to add to his trophy cabinet.
And attack he did, sporting seven birdies without a blemish for a 7-under 63 and a share of second place.
“It's fun to see this place like this where you're getting to see a little bit more of the offensive sides versus when it gets firm, it can get scary at times,” Fowler said.
“I did a good job of not getting ahead of myself and moving through things too quickly and stayed patient.”
Fowler has two runner up results this season and sits a healthy 17th in the FedExCup but wants more trophies. Particularly his first World Golf Championship and major championship.
“You've got to take care of business just to get in this golf tournament,” he said.
“There's probably some names up there that people may not have seen or heard of as much, but they've earned their way here. No one's here by accident. You're bringing together the best players in the world.
“I’m off to a good start, that's all you can do Thursday.”
OHIO DREAMING ... Kyle Stanley is hoping he goes one better than his last visit to Ohio.
Stanley played brilliantly down the stretch in June down the road in Columbus at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide but ultimately came up short – losing in a playoff with Bryson DeChambeau and Byeong Hun An.
Stanley had birdied the 14th through 17th holes Sunday to take the lead before dropping a shot on the last.
DeChambeau ended up taking home the trophy leaving Stanley without the third TOUR win he craves.
But an opening round 7-under 63 at Firestone South, where he went out on the back nine in 6-under 29, has him just one off the lead.
“I was down for a couple days, but we're fine now,” Stanley said of the playoff loss.
“I took a lot of positive out of it. I play well here in Ohio. A lot of these golf courses, same grass as what I play back home and kind of the same look.
“The courses are fairly similar to what I grew up on and I still live in Washington now, so this is very similar condition‑wise to what I see when I'm home on my off weeks.”
Rickie Fowler’s 165-yard approach sets up birdie at Bridgestone
TIGER WOODS – The eight-time winner at Firestone put together a solid 4-under 66 to be tied 14th. Read about his round here.
JON RAHM – Went out fast with a front side 30 before cooling slightly to shoot 6-under 64.
DUSTIN JOHNSON – Last week’s winner and FedExCup leader could only muster a 1-under 69.
JUSTIN THOMAS – Opened with three-straight birdies and four in his first five holes before settling for a 5-under 65.
PATRICK CANTLAY – The winner from Vegas earlier this season shares fourth place after a 6-under 64.
RORY McILROY – The former winner lurks ominously after a 5-under 65.
Rory McIlroy interview after Round 1 of Bridgestone
QUOTABLESI like JT's attitude over everything else. He's got a nasty streak in him, which I think you need out here.He's not too far away from going on a pretty big tear here.I know it won't be, but I hope the next three are as stress‑free as today.I think it's fun to laugh at yourself, and certainly that's what I'm doing in this commercial because it was a lot of work just to get those moves out of me.
Low round: 8-under 62 – Ian Poulter.
Longest drive: 393 yards – Luke List on the par-5 16th
Longest putt: 49 feet, two inches – Tyrrell Hatton.
Toughest hole: The par-4 9th played at 4.268 with just six birdies.
Easiest hole: The par-5 2nd was almost a half stroke under par at 4.507.
CALL OF THE DAY
For play-by-play coverage of the second round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, listen at PGATOUR.COM.
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