GULLANE, Scotland -- Perhaps Ian Poulter approached Sunday's final round at the Open Championship like the Ryder Cup.
The English golfer who has made a name for himself by breaking American hearts at the biennial grudge match was making them from all over Scotland and made a run at the Claret Jug in the process.
Poulter shot a 4-under-par 67 and gave a jolt to partisan British fans who were also at Muirfield to root on Lee Westwood. He was eight back at the start of the round and at one point pulled within a stroke before finishing four back of Phil Mickelson.
"I managed to chop into the guys' lead somewhat around the turn, making eagle and three birdies there to start the back nine,'' Poulter said. "I really put myself in a nice position. It's a shame to bogey 16, not birdie 17. But 4 under par today in those conditions was obviously a very good round of golf.''
Poulter, who went 4-0 at last fall's Ryder Cup for Europe and almost single-handedly kept the Americans from running away at Medinah, didn't have a worldwide top-20 finish February and is enduring a difficult year.
But he got hot at fiery Muirfield. After falling to 6 over par with a birdie at the third, Poulter birdied the fifth, then eagled the ninth before three straight birdies. His rally stalled at the 13th and then he made a bogey at the 16th.
"The excitement, the atmosphere, the fans out there were certainly giving me a lot of electricity and pumping me up,'' Poulter said. "So yeah it was nice to be in that position when you're playing in front of a home crowd holing 15-foot putts for eagles, birdies and running up that leaderboard.''