England's Ian Poulter believes the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush will not be over-powered in The Open this week

Ian Poulter calls for smart golf at The Open

As Ian Poulter prepares to play in The Open for the 18th time, the Englishman believes smart golf will win over aggression at Royal Portrush.

“We are going to have a great Open on a great golf course that is going to test every aspect of your game,” says Poulter, 43. “This is not a golf course where you have to hit driver. You have got to keep the ball on the fairway and keep it in play because the rough is no fun. You’ve got to play smart. Smart golf is going to win this championship in the end.”

Poulter made his debut in The Open at St Andrews in 2000 and he has nearly won the Claret Jug twice; first in 2008 at Royal Birkdale when he finished in second place behind Padraig Harrington, and again in 2013 when he finished in a tie for third place at Muirfield when Phil Mickelson won.

“I am a lot greyer than I was back in 2000 at St Andrews,” admits Poulter in an interview with Open patron Mercedes-Benz. “I am older, wiser and I think I am a smarter golfer today and a better golfer. I am more rounded as a player and I better understand my job.

“And experience counts for a lot in The Open. It takes time to understand the shot-making and how to move the ball into the greens on links golf courses, holding the ball into the wind and getting shots along the ground as early as you can.

“I have played in The Open for a long time ago now, for 19 years, so I have picked up a lot of on-course knowledge and hopefully it will help me between now and Sunday.

“The greatest lesson in links conditions is to understand that there is not just one way to play the golf course. You can play the driver on some tees here yet some holes were designed for golfers not to be overly aggressive and that’s why you need to play smart golf.

“The Open is not easy from start to finish so you need a good game plan and you need to execute it.

“It’s a sell out this week so I can’t wait to play in front of all these fans. It is going to be very special with this level of support.”

Poulter tees off in the first round tomorrow morning at 9:03, with Sungjae Im from South Korea and Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat.