Ian Poulter: ‘People threatening you is not a nice position to be in’ (cloned)

Ian Poulter during a practice round at St Andrews. ‘I love everything about it. It’s so iconic. My feelings have stayed the same right from hitting my first tee shot 22 years ago’

Ian Poulter would ordinarily be riding a tidal wave of blue support heading into an Open Championship, but golf’s civil war has split loyalties and even infiltrated the burnt fairways of the Old Course. The 46-year-old was among the defectors to LIV Golf who sought an emergency injunction to “abate” their suspension from the DP World Tour in order to play in last week’s Scottish Open at Renaissance Club. Their appeal was successful but the outcome for Poulter was not altogether positive. He opened last Thursday with a torrid round of 78 before a barely assuaging 72 condemned him to a missed cut. His unwavering pride prohibits him from “giving excuses for a poor performance”, but the ructions have been wearying. “There are definitely factors,” Poulter says. “To be honest, that’s up to everyone else to decide what the distractions were in play last week.”

It is clear the Englishman is keen to take solace from the LIV storm at St Andrews this week, where conditions are set to be far calmer and the depth of history defends against the shallow arguments of the present. At times, Poulter admits, that has been difficult. He has had to stop checking the comments on his social media in recent weeks due to the abuse he has received over his decision to align with the Saudi-backed breakaway. “There’s been an awful lot of unpleasant remarks from the times when I have looked at it and it’s not very nice,” he says. “People threatening you is not a nice position to be in, hence why I haven’t been looking an awful lot at it.”

Poulter insists he has no concerns about receiving any backlash in person in St Andrews and is determined just to “play some golf and actually enjoy my week”. His family are coming up to watch him, just as they did in 2000 when he played his first Open at the Old Course, and he is no different to the hordes of professionals who hold the scenery dear. “Top five [courses] I’ve ever played,” he says. “I love everything about it. It’s so iconic. My feelings have stayed the same right from hitting my first tee shot 22 years ago.”

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