The Englishman, Europe’s catalyst for that famous win on American soil last year, appeared to have little chance when he began the day eight shots off the lead. When he bogeyed the third he was even further back, but a brilliant run of eagle-birdie-birdie-birdie from the ninth as he began sinking putts thrust him into contention.
The 37-year-old was on a roll but his momentum came to a halt when he missed the green at the 16th and failed to get up and down.
“They were going in the middle like they were in Medinah,” said Poulter, who finished joint third four shots behind winner Phil Mickelson, in reference to his Ryder Cup performance. “The excitement, the atmosphere, the fans out there were certainly giving me a lot of electricity and pumping me up. It’s nice to be in that position when you’re playing in front of a home crowd.”
Poulter changed his putter for the tournament – a move which paid off.
“Today was the day where I felt the putter started to work,” he added. “The last few events I felt like I haven’t had that kind of roll where I’ve rolled key putts in at the right time. I’ve worked very hard in the last two weeks to find a putter that I felt very comfortable with.”
With the lead changing hands between Ryder Cup team-mate Lee Westwood, the overnight leader, Adam Scott and world No 1 Tiger Woods, Poulter sensed he had a chance of sneaking through.
“On 12 as I rolled that putt in to get myself back to level par I was right there in the mix,” he said. “I think Westie (Westwood) had made bogey at that stage and was at two-under par. I hit a fantastic shot into 13 to about 12 feet and missed that putt there, but I’m a leaderboard watcher and I always like to see what’s going on.
“I just felt that if I could stay patient, take a few chances, don’t make silly mistakes then I could definitely move up that board.
“I was eight back. Realistically, do you really think you’ve got a chance to run straight through and nick it? Going to bed last night, probably not, but you realise that Paul Lawrie came from ten back (in 1999). There was a six-shot swing in four holes last year. This tournament does it year in, year out, and it creates a lot of drama.”