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Ian Poulter, one of 24 LIV Golf defectors in the field at St Andrews, was booed as he was introduced on the first tee of the 150th Open Championship.
The Englishman was among the early tee times and looked visually taken aback by the frosty reception from the Scottish crowd. The 46-year-old responded by nearly missing the 120-yard fairway as his ball came within just two yards of crossing the boundary to the right of the 18th.
Boos on the 1st tee at #TheOpen for Ian Poulter. @4golfonline - “ I wonder what he’s done wrong’? pic.twitter.com/1NYYiE0r59July 14, 2022
Poulter was widely regarded as a fan favourite in the Open Championship, largely the result of his passionate and dominant displays in the Ryder Cup. The Postman has been a key part of seven Ryder Cup teams that is perhaps best highlighted by his catalytic performance in 2012 when he pulled the European team from the pit of despair before an emphatic Sunday performance led to victory.
Prior to the emergence of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series, players were purportedly told that should they accept the advances then they would risk future Ryder Cup involvement. Poulter's allegiance to the Greg Norman-fronted venture is therefore seen by many as a choice of financial riches ahead of Ryder Cup legacy and future captaincy.
The Englishman defended his decision to join the breakaway circuit and insisted that it is no different to what he has done throughout his career to date: "I don’t feel I have done anything wrong. I have played all over the world for 25 years. This is no different", he said.
"I am committed to playing around the world like I have done for so many years so it is a shame if they view this as different. Of course it’s going to be sad, when you feel you haven’t done anything wrong and want to promote the game of golf. It’s a power struggle and it’s just disappointing."
Poulter was subsequently fined £100,000 and suspended for three co-sanctioned DP World Tour and PGA Tour events. Following legal action, those suspensions were "temporarily stayed" - an outcome Keith Pelley, DP World Tour CEO, described as "disappointing."
Whilst the PGA and DP World Tour continue to challenge those that take part in the Saudi-backed Series, the R&A adopted a different stance. Chief Executive Martin Slumbers publicly apposed the LIV Golf Series but insisted that "we will hold totally true to The Open being open to anybody."
"Looking ahead to The Open next year, we have been asked quite frequently about banning players," he said. "Let me be very clear. That's not on our agenda. But what is on our agenda is that we will review our exemptions and qualifications criteria for The Open."
James joined Golf Monthly having previously written for other digital outlets. He is obsessed with all areas of the game – from tournament golf, to history, equipment, technique and travel. He is also an avid collector of memorabilia; with items from the likes of Bobby Jones, Tiger Woods, Francis Ouimet, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Adam Scott and Ernie Els. As well as writing for Golf Monthly, James’ golfing highlight is fist bumping Phil Mickelson on his way to winning the Open Championship at Muirfield in 2013. James grew up on the east coast of England and is the third generation of his golfing family. He now resides in Leeds and is a member of Cobble Hall Golf Club with a handicap index of 1.7. His favourite films are The Legend of Bagger Vance and Tin Cup.
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