IAN Poulter said the opening round of the US Open was like a visit to the dentist – but he bit back to emerge as one of the early leaders.
Poulter was one of only four men to break par at Shinnecock Hills, as winds gusting to 20mph dried out the course much quicker than anyone expected.
It was nowhere near as bad as the 2004 farce here, when the greens got out of control and the organisers were forced to start watering them after the final round began.
But Poulter’s one under par 69 – which was matched by Americans Dustin Johnson, Russell Henley and Scott Piercy – was another example of the fighting qualities that have made the English scrapper such a formidable force in the Ryder Cup.
Poulter said: I didn't enjoy it at all. I have to say, through most of the US Opens, I haven't enjoyed very many, to be honest. They're difficult. They're hot. They're stressful.
“It feels like you're pulling teeth every single hole you play. How I've got any left, I don't really know.!
“They always set out very difficult. It's supposed to be tough. And this week, I've changed my mindset. I'm here to enjoy my golf this week, to play freely. If I hit it in the rough, I’m going to accept it, and I'm going to try and make par the hard way.
“My attitude is just don't get too bogged down with it all. It's difficult for everyone. Today is just a good day, and I've got three tough days left.
Justin Rose shot a one over par 71, and admitted he was delighted with that effort.
He said: “Normally you walk off and if you’re over par than you’re not going to be happy. But that was a great start today. I played really well and hit 13 out of 14 fairways.
“I did enough good stuff to keep my momentum going. The green speeds were quicker than practice, and what you can’t see on TV is the slopes. You hit a bad putt and you’re off the green.”