PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA – Sometimes the words fit the actions and this time they did. “The water is going to taste like acid when I have a drink later tonight,” a fiery Ian Poulter said. “I’m raging right now.” At least that’s what he said publicly. What he said privately doesn’t bear thinking about. It wasn’t language fit for a king.
But cut the Englishman a bit of slack before you rush to condemn him for bad manners. What had just happened to Poulter would have tested the patience of the saintly Job. Poulter had left the 17th green tied for second at the Players Championship, having just notched his sixth birdie of the day to move to 10-under par.
Poulter, 42, likes TPC Sawgrass’ Stadium Course. He has competed in the Players every year starting in 2004 and earned $2.3 million from it in that time. He has had two runner-up finishes here in the past nine years. “It’s a tough golf course. It’s a clever golf course and we [Europeans] like tough conditions so I guess that could be one of the reasons why we like it.”
But Poulter didn’t like the 18th in the third round. Not when his second shot ended a few inches from the edge of a bunker so that to get his ball out he had to chop down on it as if it was a log and he was holding an axe instead of a golf club. Oh yes, and he had one foot in the bunker and one foot out of it. Other than that, it was routine.
Little wonder that Poulter didn’t escape the sand the first time. But a poor second attempt ended 6 feet away and with steam practically coming out of his ears, he was in no frame of mind to hole the putt. The man who had been 10-under par and in second place on the tee was 8-under par and currently tied for 10th on the green.
Thus did a possible 67 turn in little more than the blinking of an eye into a 69. Cue some understandably colourful language. But who among us has not raged on a golf course at some time or another?