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Ian Poulter: ‘People threatening you is not a pleasant position’

Ian Poulter would normally ride a tidal wave of blue support ahead of an Open Championship, but golf’s Civil War has split loyalties and even infiltrated the scorched fairways of the Old Course. The 46-year-old man was among the defectors to LIV Golf who have applied for an emergency injunction to “reverse” their suspension from the DP World Tour to compete in last week’s Scottish Open at the Renaissance Club. Their appeal was successful, but the result for Poulter was not entirely positive. He opened last Thursday with a scorching round of 78 before a barely soothing 72 condemned him to a missed cut. His unshakeable pride forbids him to “give excuses for poor performance”, but the ructions have been tiresome. “There are definitely factors,” Poulter says. “To be honest, it’s up to everyone to decide what distractions were in play last week.”

It’s clear the Englishman is keen to take solace from Storm LIV at St Andrews this week, where conditions are expected to be much calmer and the depth of the story defends against the superficial arguments of the present. At times, admits Poulter, it has been difficult. He had to stop checking comments on his social media in recent weeks due to the abuse he faced for his decision to line up with the Saudi-backed breakaway. “There were a lot of nasty remarks from the time I watched it and it’s not very pleasant,” he says. “People threatening you is not a nice position, which is why I haven’t watched that much.”

Poulter insists he has no concerns about receiving a backlash in person at St Andrews and is determined to “play golf and enjoy my week”. His family comes to see him, just like in 2000 when he played his first Open at the Old Course, and he is no different from the hordes of professionals who are keen on the scenery. “Top five [courses] I’ve played before,” he says. “I love everything about it. It’s so iconic. My feelings have remained the same since my first tee shot 22 years ago.

Ian Poulter: ‘People threatening you is not a pleasant position’

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