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Ian Poulter feels the Open love but falls out of Claret Jug contention | Andy Bull

The Englishman started the day with an ominous bogey and was unable to draw on the mass of affection from the Royal Birkdale crowd to stay with Jordan Spieth

In sport, affection is one of the rewards of endurance. Stick around long enough, and most everyone comes to like you in the end. Even if you are Ian Poulter. He may be Marmite online, but there is no player more popular with the crowd at Birkdale this week, not even Rory McIlroy. After the year Poulter’s had, he has earned every last little bit of their support.

This is the first major Poulter has played in since last year’s Masters and the first he has contended since the Masters before that. In the past 12 months, he has struggled so hard that he nearly lost his PGA Tour card, has had surgery to fix a severe foot injury, had to close down his clothing company and make it through a qualifying tournament just to play here.

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