Bill Rabinowitz | firstname.lastname@example.org Ian Poulter hadn’t played Muirfield Village Golf Club since an undistinguished run of attempts in the Memorial Tournament that ended in 2009.
The English golfer lives most of the year in the United States, but his family — he and his wife have four children — have spent recent summers back home.
“It’s been 11 years since I’ve played here, which is quite crazy when I think about it,” Poulter said after shooting a 3-under-par 69 on Friday in the second round of the Workday Charity Open at Muirfield Village.
At 7 under for the tournament, the 44-year-old Poulter trails leader Collin Morikawa by six shots.
“I played here for a number of years and pretty much liked the place, but never had a finish,” he said.
In five Memorials, he didn’t finish better than tied for 30th. In recent years, he has played the Wentworth tournament in England instead of in Dublin. But with the PGA Tour and European Tour schedules scrambled because of the coronavirus pandemic, he’ll get to play two straight weeks at Muirfield Village.
“Tournaments are tournaments, and some have to be sacrificed with a global schedule that a number of us are playing,” Poulter said. “It’s a shame it happened that way. To be able to come here and play two weeks in a row is really nice.”
Poulter described his round Friday as “hot and moist.” He birdied Nos. 11, 12 and 13 to get to 8 under. He flirted with disaster on 17 before making a 12-foot putt for bogey.
Poulter said he feels refreshed after not touching a club for much of the COVID-forced golf shutdown.
“Even though I didn’t hit balls for seven or eight weeks, I hit enough,” he said. “Then when it was practice time, I felt good because I felt a bit stronger, felt a bit fresher, and my swing was more on line than what it normally is when I take a long layoff.
“I feel good about my game. I feel fresh, and I’m holing a few putts, and it’s nice to see a few putts go in.”
Patrick Reed struggled to gauge the speed of the Muirfield Village greens early, but he figured it out late. The 2018 Masters champion birdied four of the last six holes Friday to finish with a 2-under 70 and finish at 6 under.
“I felt like I dialed down the speed pretty well on the putting green this morning,” Reed said.
But he hit what he thought was a good putt on No. 10 — his first hole — and it went more than 8 feet past the cup. He bogeyed the hole.
“From there I just kind of seemed a little timid on speed,” said Reed, who eventually told himself he needed to make some putts.
“I was able to be a little more aggressive and more fluid with my stroke, which is kind of the biggest thing for me,” he said.
Ohio State product Ryan Armour didn’t expect to make the cut after his second consecutive even-par 72. The projected cut when he finished was 1 under. Armour said he struggled off the tee, which is normally a reliable part of his game.
Something else was missing – a sizable Buckeye rooting section for the 1999 grad because of the ban on spectators.
“It’s eerily silent at all these events,” he said. “Especially coming here, being an Ohio State alum, I miss it. I definitely enjoy the interaction with the crowds and the ‘Go Bucks’ and the ‘O-H’s. I just hope in the near future we can get back to normal.”
Jordan Spieth is another prominent name in danger of missing the cut after a pair of 72s. He seemed safe to survive for the weekend until he birdied No. 5 — his 14th hole — and then double-bogeyed No. 8 to bring him back to even par.