Poulter feels he can go low in Kent

IAN POULTER admitted he would have been disappointed had he not finished under par at Royal St George’s having played so well without creating many chances during his first round yesterday.

Poulter’s two birdies at the par-three 16th and 17th ensured he finished one under with a 69, leaving him satisfied there is plenty more to come over the next three days.

“I’m happy with the finish,” said the 35-year-old. “It would have been disappointing to finish today over par with the shots I executed.

“I couldn’t have asked to hit the ball any better. There were a couple of par saves but apart from that it was pretty flawless.

“The way I’ve played and the shots I’ve hit — and the tough shots I’ve hit — I’m very happy.

“I definitely think I’ve got a chance if I play like I did today. I don’t feel the need to go to the range to do any work.”

FORE LEFT: Question of the day came from the agency reporter who followed up an earlier question to Rory McIlroy about whether the young Irish star had experienced anything of a US Open hangover in his first round.

“No, no hangover from the US Open,” McIlroy had replied in an instant.

Then came the zinger: “How many hangovers have you had since the US Open?”

That one needed a bit more deliberation and having made a mental recollection, McIlroy replied: “About four.”

DANNY JOY: Yorkshire’s Danny Willett admits his experience of winning the English Amateur Championship at Royal St George’s could not really prepare him for his British Open debut.

The 23-year-old from Hackenthorpe near Sheffield was victorious over the Sandwich links in 2007 on his way to playing in the Walker Cup and becoming the world’s number one-ranked amateur before turning pro a year later.

However, that counted for little at the biggest event of his life.

“I have not been nervous all week. I’ve been hitting the ball nicely but there is something different when they start announcing the names,” said Willett after shooting a one-under-par 69 in the first group out at 6.30am.

“Regardless of how much you do or don’t want it, you get butterflies in there and you start shaking a bit.”

RICK BE QUICK: Ricky Barnes was rewarded for his patience when he received a late call-up to the British Open yesterday.

Barnes had made the trip across from the US despite being a fifth alternate for the third major of the year and his decision was repaid when Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts withdrew with an injured elbow following a fall from a rented moped in Sandwich.

Colsaerts, 28, was third at last week’s Scottish Open but his good fortune ran out on Monday night.

“There was no alcohol involved or anything... but you have to do something to while away the time, you can’t just sit in your room and do nothing,” said the Belgian.

LUKE WHO? He may be world number one but England’s Luke Donald discovered his face does not grant him access all areas.

The second-favourite to lift the Claret Jug this week, having won the Scottish Open on Sunday, reportedly arrived at Royal St George’s ahead of his 9.20am tee time only to discover he had not brought his course pass.

However, a R&A official was called over and the situation resolved swiftly.

TOM TIMES TWO: There was a neat symmetry about the pairing in match number 43 as five-time British Open champion Tom Watson opened his 2011 campaign in the company of rising English amateur star Tom Lewis. Nothing unusual about that, except for the fact that Lewis was named by his golf-loving father Brian after the legendary Watson.

“He’s my dad’s favourite golfer,” Lewis, 20, said. &

RED OR DEAD: Miguel Angel Jimenez supplied one of the quotes of the day when asked if he would celebrate his four-under-par 66 with a glass of Rioja.

The cigar-smoking Spaniard replied: “I’m going to have a glass of Rioja. It doesn’t matter what the scores are going to be, I’m going to have a glass of Rioja tonight.”

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