ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — Ian Poulter had a rough start on Thursday morning at the Open Championship, but he rebounded in a big way.
Poulter, one of the several LIV Golf defectors, was booed on the opening tee of the Old Course when he started his round at 7:08 a.m. local. It got worse, as he snap-hooked his drive out of the first fairway and all the way across the 18th fairway. It came to rest just feet away from the spectator gates, narrowly saving him from going out of bounds.
Analyst Sam Torrance, in a sarcastic tone, even quipped: “I’ve never heard him being booed before. I wonder what he’s done wrong?”
While it wasn’t an overwhelming cold first-tee response for Poulter — you can hear several people clapping among a handful of loud boos — it’s still notable for a couple of reasons. Poulter, who is from England, has long been a European Ryder Cup hero, and for that a European favorite, especially during that biennial event. The other reason it’s notable? This is Scotland — and the Old Course at St. Andrews to boot — where there’s a higher standard of golf decorum than what’s often seen in the States. Let’s face it, the Old Course isn’t exactly TPC Scottsdale.
Despite his shaky tee shot, Poulter still managed to save par on the first en route to a strong opening nine. He added a birdie on 6 and eagled the par-4 9th to turn in three under, which at the time gave him the early lead.
Poulter capped his round with a birdie on the 18th to sign for a three-under 69, which put him in the clubhouse tied for 6th. After his round, he said he never heard the boos.
“I actually thought I had a great reception on the 1st tee, to be honest,” he said. “All I heard was clapping.”
Pressed on it, he doubled down.
“Oh, my gosh, I have heard not one heckle,” he said. “In three weeks, I’ve heard nothing. What have you heard?”
Later in his press conference, Poulter seemed to contradict that statement, though. When asked what he said after someone shouted something on the 17th hole, he said: “I said there’s always one American in the crowd.”
You can follow the opening round of the Open Championship here, and click here to catch up on what else you missed on Thursday morning.