SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (Reuters) - Ian Poulter is finally enjoying the U.S. Open after more than a decade of frustration and despite a couple of late miscues on Friday, the Briton heads into the weekend tied for fourth and well in contention for a maiden major title.
The 42-year-old played brilliantly for 16 holes as he moved to within one shot of halfway leader Dustin Johnson, but the Englishman closed with an ugly triple bogey-bogey finish to sign for a second round 72.
The Ryder Cup stalwart sits one-over par for the tournament and will hope Johnson, who moved four strokes clear of the field at four-under for the tournament, will start making some mistakes of his own over the next two days.
Despite the rocky finish, Poulter was upbeat when speaking with reporters and said that he had come to love the tournament he once loathed.
“I’ve hated it for 14 years, I’m going to be honest,” he said.
“I came to 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 because I’ve gone home early and I haven’t had the finish that I would have liked.
“So, you know, coming in this week, feeling good about my game, feeling good about the course, I kind of love it... you know, I hated it and (now) I love it.”
Poulter has never managed a top-10 finish at a U.S. Open — his best result coming in 2006 when he finished tied for 12th — but his win at this year’s Houston Open after a year of injury frustration has helped build confidence.
The Briton said memories of missing the cut at past U.S. Opens had motivated him to improve his game and inspired him to take a more relaxed approach to the high-pressure tournament.
“Being at home sitting on the sofa watching the U.S. Open the last couple years has been kind of frustrating,” he said.
“So that’s why I’ve got the attitude this week of a little bit carefree, go out, play golf, try and enjoy it.”
Poulter will be paired with defending champion American Brooks Koepka when he tees off on Saturday.
Reporting by Andrew Both; Writing by Rory Carroll; Editing by John O'Brien