Ian Poulter is in prime position to end a European Tour winless streak dating back to 2012
Ian Poulter tees off on the 15th hole during the second round of the 2020 Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open.
NORTH BERWICK, Scotland — At the end of a round that saw 24-year-old Australian Lucas Herbert at the top of the leader board at 11 under par, the second day of the Scottish Open was perhaps most notable for the contributions made by more “experienced” members of the 126-man field. Forty-something Englishmen Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood showed they can still play more than a bit. And 51-year-old Paul Lawrie said a last cheerio to the European Tour when he missed the halfway cut.
Poulter first. Europe’s Ryder Cup talisman isn’t leading the Scottish Open at the halfway stage. But he’s close. With 36 holes still to play in what is predicted to be foul, wet-and-windy weather, Poulter’s nine-under-par 133 has him two shots off the pace, tied with Westwood (who took nine shots more with a second-round 71 compared to opening 62). Only compatriot Robert Rock sits between the pair and the leader.
Not surprisingly, Poulter was at his “cheeky chappie” best discussing a second round that contained six birdies and only one dropped shot. He was certainly more than happy at being part of the late/early half of the draw. Treated to almost flat calm conditions on Thursday, the six-time Ryder Cupper enjoyed the same again 24 hours later, with some sunshine thrown in.
“I’ve had my fair share of bad draws over the years,” said Poulter, a large smile confirming his pleasure at avoiding another meteorological calamity. “But this has been a really good one. At times out on the course I almost felt guilty. But only almost. If I was on the other side of the draw I’d be feeling a bit hard done by. But hey-ho, that’s how it goes.
That’s not to say that he played in perfect conditions. We’re still talking Scotland in early October. Warm is not usually part of the forecast.
“I’m not accustomed to wearing all this gear,” said Poulter, a 12-time European Tour winner but whose last triumph came in 2012 at the WGC-HSBC Champions (he also won the 2018 Houston Open). “I’ve gone from shorts and a t-shirt in Florida to waterproofs and two sweaters, which look like they’ll be staying on for the weekend. But I’m obviously happy with my start. I’m making birdies. I made two mistakes yesterday. Which was frustrating. But I came out today and holed a few nice putts and hit a few nice shots.”
Indeed, as was the case on an opening day when 54 players broke par, the Tom Doak design on the southern shore of the Firth of Forth—next door to Muirfield—was vulnerable to those able to cope with its vagaries. Although that may change, given the weekend forecast.
“This is one of those courses where you can funnel the ball into some of the pin positions,” Poulter said. “But over the next couple of days it could show its teeth. It’s going be raining. It’s going to be windy. And the rough is thick. So far, it’s been OK to see the ball run just off the fairways. But that won’t be the case tomorrow.”
Speaking of tomorrows, there won’t be one for Lawrie. The 1999 Open champion bade farewell to the regular tour with a second-round 79 in which he was plagued by back pains. No matter, it was a score deemed, by universal acclaim, irrelevant given all he has achieved over the course of his 28-year tour career.
Paul Lawrie is congratulated by Stephen Gallacher on the 18th green after completing the final round in a regular season European Tour event on Friday at the Scottish Open.
Which is not to say Lawrie, eight times a winner on the European Tour in his 620 appearances, left with nothing but sympathy and tributes ringing in his ears. Fellow Scot Stephen Gallacher was all smiles walking off the 18th green alongside his close friend. “Get him some help,” said Gallacher as Lawrie neared the stone steps leading to the clubhouse. “He forgot his walking stick.”
And there was more. Asked if he would miss his pal on tour, Gallacher wasn’t quite done with the good-natured abuse.
“Miss him?” he asked rhetorically. “I’m glad to see the back of him.”
Caledonian humor, folks.