Ian Poulter in contention at Royal Birkdale

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Ian Poulter is just three-shots back and is firmly in contention during the 146th Open at Royal Birkdale. 

It's been a season of ups and downs, but ever since it became clear Poulter had regained his tour card, he has shown that he has re-discovered his fire and confidence in his game.

Today was no different. Given that he is only in the tournament because he came through final-qualifying at Woburn on July 4, it should almost come as a surprise that the Englishman is lying third in the third major of the year.

But with a second place finish at the Players Championship among several impressive performances in the last couple of months, the Englishman has just cemented his presence back on the world stage with a dazzling 2nd round display to emerge as a serious Open contender.

‘Poults’ overcame the most testing of conditions for the second day running to somehow card a rock solid, Faldo-esque 70 (-3 total) to keep the heat on leading Americans Jordan Spieth, Matt Kuchar and US Open champion Brooks Koepka.

And if he can maintain his form and focus there’s a good chance he can lay the Birkdale ghosts of 2008 - he was runner-up to Padraig Harrington - to rest. Not bad going for somebody who had to qualify at his home club Woburn to earn the right to tee it up here.

Poults admits it’s been a torrid time, arguably the most trying of his career, but he says his mojo his finally back, saying: “This is a massive bonus for me to be in this position. I haven't played a major for a little while. I'm excited. I'm pumped up. I feel my game's coming back to form.

“So, yeah, I mean I'm ready to go out there toe to toe with anyone this weekend. It was a solid day's work in the office.

“It feels absolutely marvellous to be in contention again, it really does. Walking up 18, just walking from greens to tees was really pretty special today.

“I'm definitely enjoying my golf right now because of what's happened. So I wasn't in this position in 2008. I came from a bit further back to get myself in position and had a pretty strong Sunday.

The weekend is going to be a different proposition, teeing off nice and late, which is great. But I'm in a good frame of mind. I feel confident. The large confidence tank that was empty a few months ago is starting to fill up. And I like it when it gets full up.

“I play some of my best golf when I'm pretty confident. And I'm excited for this weekend.” The Ryder Cup hero is hoping that his exploits in the bi-annual event will stand him in good stead against the best of US opposition although he stresses:

“This isn't quite Ryder Cup, but it is The Open Championship. “So whoever is in front, whether they're American or whether it's another Englishman or wherever they're from, I'm obviously going to want to get myself in front of them come Sunday night.

“This isn't about an Englishman against a couple of Americans. There's a lot of players in this field that are great players. “I'm not thinking too far ahead. I'm just trying to mentally prepare myself for tomorrow. Check the weather forecast again, try to work out a plan tonight for tomorrow, and try and plot my way around the golf course again.”

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