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Boo-gate still rumbles on in St Andrews as Ian Poulter continued to answer questions about those stray voices on Thursday morning. The Englishman’s Open could have been very different had certain aspects taken a different turn in the first hour of play; his opening tee shot very nearly resulted in a reload at 7.08 and, had a couple of fans kept their mouths shut instead of some comedy boos, then we could all have saved ourselves some very prickly exchanges.
Instead we were back there on the 1st hole on Thursday morning after the Englishman had signed for a 70 and five-under total on Saturday night.
The initial exchanges were all fairly standard with Poulter going through the motions with a generic appraisal of the home fans.
“Every hole has been great. Because of the way the course shapes itself, they're kind of one side or the other side the whole way out and the whole way back in. You only allow them to come in around the loop, where they can kind of get in and have some food and stand in the stand. But the support's been amazing. I mean, a lot of fans. I'm not sure of the numbers, but I would think it's almost record numbers,” he reflected.
So far, so good in this colour-by-numbers back and forth. And then the elephant in Fife would re-emerge and we would head back down the tried-and-tested path of stirring him from his platitudes.
Strap yourselves in, settle into your seats and get the popcorn out.
“It (the crowd support) must be quite welcome after people talking about you getting booed on the opening day?”
“Are we still talking about it?”
“I was walking with you today.”
“Did you hear one bad comment?”
“No, I heard a lot of good ones. That's why I'm asking.”
By this point you would suspect that most people's heads would be firmly on the floor to avoid even the remotest chance of catching his eye.
“I’m asking you a question, did you hear one bad one?”
“It's amazing how we still talk about one person that's 100 yards down the 1st, where there's conveniently a microphone positioned way down halfway down the stand and some young guy says boo, and it comes over on the TV. And you all assume I'm being booed on the course. If you guys continue to write that there are people and there's negative comments and there's boos, then unfortunately that's not a true reflection of exactly what happened. So it would be really nice if people like yourself, I don't know your name.”
It's unclear who 'Andy' is but you would imagine that, by this point, he was about three feet tall and even more irritated by whoever it was who did boo everyone's favourite Postman.
“Andy, would (you) actually write the truth, that we're getting quite a lot of support out there on the course because it would just be nice. It would be a fair reflection of actually what's happening, rather than this continual press of let's lead down the path of players being booed who have joined the LIV tour. Let's just say that, right? Fair, respectful, honest journalism would be great because it would be the truth.”
The conversation then turned seamlessly to Muirfeld and the forthcoming Women’s Open there and, just like that, Poulter flicked the switch to singing the praises of the ladies’ game.
On the course he’s threatened to contend but his long putting and play on the back nine has let him down. But Sunday will bring Poulter’s Open career at St Andrews to a close, it will be his fifth Open here and he intends to enjoy every moment.
“I’m going to walk away from this week unfortunately disappointed with the end result, but nevertheless I'll enjoy Sunday. My kids will be here to watch. And it will be wonderful.”
Mark has worked in golf for over 20 years having started off his journalistic life at the Press Association and BBC Sport before moving to Sky Sports where he became their golf editor on skysports.com. He then worked at National Club Golfer and Lady Golfer where he was the deputy editor and he has interviewed many of the leading names in the game, both male and female, ghosted columns for the likes of Robert Rock, Charley Hull and Dame Laura Davies, as well as playing the vast majority of our Top 100 GB&I courses. He loves links golf with a particular love of Royal Dornoch and Kingsbarns. He is now a freelance, also working for the PGA and Robert Rock. Loves tour golf, both men and women and he remains the long-standing owner of an horrific short game. He plays at Moortown with a handicap of 6.
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