Ian Poulter ‘hated’ Torrey Pines at the 2008 U.S. Open. What a difference 13 years makes

Ian Poulter shot a three-under 68 on Saturday at Torrey Pines.

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Many players have a love-hate relationship with the U.S. Open.

Ian Poulter’s has been more of the hate-hate variety.

In 15 starts in golf’s toughest test, Poulter has zero top-10s, four missed cuts and a withdrawal.

“I’ve hated it for 14 years,” he said of the championship halfway through the 2018 edition at Shinnecock Hills. “I came into my first U.S. Open, and I wanted to enjoy it, and I hated it. I hated a lot of U.S. Opens through the years, to be honest, because I’ve gone home early and I haven’t had the finish that I would have liked.”

Poulter was just getting started. A day later, after the USGA was roundly criticized by players for letting the greens get too crispy, Poulter unloaded both on social media …

…and his locker:

Another low point came in 2008 at Torrey Pines, when Poulter — well on his way to a missed cut — withdrew with a wrist injury with three holes still to play in the second round. (His wrist had been bugging him heading into the week, the result of a tennis match he had played before the Open with Justin Rose.)

Poulter’s feelings on the setup that week?

“Hated it,” he said Saturday with his trademark candor.

This week, though — 13 years after Torrey’s maiden Open — Poults is singing a different tune about the setup on the windblown cliffside course, perhaps because he’s been playing like a guy who could actually win this thing, his confidence building by the day. Thursday: 74. Friday: 71. Saturday: 68!

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“U.S. Open golf is always frustrating,” Poulter said after his sporty six-birdie performance that boosted him to even for the week and within striking distance of the leaders. “You know it right from the outset, but they’ve done a really good job this week. I think the rough has been tough but fair in places. I think around the greens it’s been very, very juicy and very hard to predict lies. I think from kind of the fairway positions, they’ve given you a couple of opportunities.”

But Poults’ praise didn’t end there!

“Credit to those guys,” he added of the USGA’s setup czars. “I like what they’re doing. I like the trend they’re on, and hopefully we can make it a little more enjoyable at times.”

Another 68 on Sunday and Poulter might find this event a lot more enjoyable.

alan bastable

Alan Bastable

Golf.com Editor

As GOLF.com’s executive editor, Bastable is responsible for the editorial direction and voice of one of the game’s most respected and highly trafficked news and service sites. He wears many hats — editing, writing, ideating, developing, daydreaming of one day breaking 80 — and feels privileged to work with such an insanely talented and hardworking group of writers, editors and producers. Before grabbing the reins at GOLF.com, he was the features editor at GOLF Magazine. A graduate of the University of Richmond and the Columbia School of Journalism, he lives in New Jersey with his wife and foursome of kids.