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Ian Poulter nearly O.B. on No. 1, then makes 162-foot putt on No. 9

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Ian Poulter’s first round at The Open was beyond eventful with an opening tee shot that nearly raced through the impossibly wide first fairway and out of bounds, a 162-foot eagle putt and a crowd that largely stayed above the current political fray that’s dominating the sport.

First the opening tee shot. Poulter’s ball stopped just short of the gates that border the right side of the 18th fairway, which combines with the first to span 129 yards.

“Trying to hit it down that left half of the first and hit a tall pull is not really what you want. When I walked off that first tee, [I’m thinking] is it Ian James Finch or what could this be? It was 5 feet from out of bounds,” said Poulter, who referenced Ian Baker-Finch’s tee shot off the first hole during the 1995 Open that he snap-hooked out of bounds.

Despite the less-than-stellar start, Poulter was 1 under for the round when he stepped into his 162-foot eagle putt at the par-4 ninth hole.

“As flat as that green is and from 150 feet, I kind of hit it two cups out to the right. If you can ever figure a line of two cups to the right, I knew it might wander a hair right to left through the middle of the putt. Look, anything inside 6 feet from 150 feet is a helluva putt. For it to drop is beyond lucky,” said Poulter, who closed his round with a birdie at No. 18 for a 3-under 69.

As for the smattering of boos he received on the first tee, Poulter, who has been suspended indefinitely by the PGA Tour for joining the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series, said he wasn’t impacted by the fans.

“I actually thought I had a great reception on the first tee, to be honest,” he said. “All I heard was clapping.”

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Poulter went back and forth with reporters about the heckling, with the Englishman adamant that he didn’t hear anything. However, he did note one exchange with a shouting fan on the 17th hole.

“I said,” Poulter recalled, “there’s always one American in the crowd.”