Ryder Cup star Ian Poulter will play through the pain barrier in this week’s Open Championship after being assured he can take on Hoylake’s heavy rough without fear of aggravating a wrist problem.
Poulter, who finished joint third at Muirfield last year, underwent an MRI scan in Leeds on Monday and yesterday declared himself fit enough to compete after receiving the results.
The 38-year-old suffered the injury last week during the Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen, where he missed the cut by three shots after running up a triple-bogey on the final hole of his second round.
“I hit a shot on the 14th on Friday afternoon off an upslope and kind of jarred it, then I had to have a go out of the rough on 18 because I needed to make four to make the cut,” said the world No 27. “I went and played around (Donald) Trump’s place on Saturday and it was still sore, so I came up here and booked an appointment to have an MRI.
“I’ve had a ganglion cyst on the wrist in the past, three of them.
“By jarring it, some fluid has come out of the joint and into the cyst sac there. It’s touching on the nerve so I’m just getting a little bit of pain.
“I’ll be chewing some anti-inflammatories and some painkillers for the week but it’s good news, there’s no tendon, joint or bone damage.
“At least I can rest assured if I’m in the rough, I can have a go at it 100 per cent and know that I’m not going to do any damage.
“The pain is bearable. It’s an acute pain, but I played a lot of golf with the first cyst so I’m not worried about it and I wouldn’t withdraw because of it.
“I’ve just got to wait until I get back to America to see my doctor, shove another needle in there.”
A closing 67 – bettered only by champion Phil Mickelson’s 66 – lifted Poulter into a share of third place 12 months ago, and he was ninth in 2012 and second behind Padraig Harrington at Birkdale in 2008.
But anyone asking for his memories of missing the cut when the Open was last staged at Hoylake in 2006 is in for a disappointment.
“I’ve erased all of them,” he said. “I really don’t pay any attention to missed cuts. I get rid of them. I don’t like them. I detest them and I erase them. Sorry to cut that one really short.
“But, honestly, there’s no good coming out of 2006 so I really don’t need to waste any of my brain cells thinking back to a bad week.
“It’s a totally different golf course. It’s not quite as firm and fast this year so I treat this week as a new week, albeit a course that I’ve played, where I know what I need to do.”
England’s main hope of victory will rest on the shoulders of world No 3 Justin Rose who believes he is now at the optimum stage of his career when he can cash in at the majors.
The 2013 US Open champion arrived at Hoylake looking for an impressive treble after winning successive tournaments on either side of the Atlantic as he followed his Quicken Loans National title with victory at the Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen on Sunday.
While he would desperately love to win his home major, particularly on English soil, Rose is not limiting himself to targeting just the Claret Jug.
Which might be wise considering since he famously finished fourth as a 17-year-old amateur in 1998, Rose has not recorded another top-10 finish in 11 attempts, missing the cut in three of the last four years.
“I think it’s always easy after two wins to get carried away and say you’re playing the best golf of your life,” said the 33-year-old.
“I’m definitely more experienced and I think that begins to swing the pendulum in your favour and experience plays a huge part in being able to capitalise upon your best golf.
“In 2010 I was probably playing just as well as I was now but four or five years on I’m probably a little bit more equipped to deal with the big situation and I have a lot more positives now under my belt: Ryder Cups and major championships.
“I’ve been at the top end of the game now for a couple of years, I suppose, so that brings a lot of confidence.
“I said actually when I was 30 that was in my mind, the next 10 years from that point were going to be my prime.
“That was going to be when I was either going to live up to whatever, Birkdale back in the day, or I wasn’t.
“It was the time for me to do. There comes a point when you’ve got to stop learning and start doing.”
More Open news: Page 24.