Ian Poulter stumbled over Merion's difficult closing stretch as he completed the weather-delayed second round at the U.S. Open on Saturday, but was excited to be 'right there' in contention for the title.
The flamboyant Englishman, who had four holes to play when he resumed on a glorious morning of dazzling sunshine, bogeyed the infamous Quarry Hole, the par-four 16th, and the daunting par-four last to card a one-over-par 71.
I'm three off the lead in the U.S. Open, and that's the difference of one hole
That left Poulter at two-over 142 in the year's second major, just three strokes behind joint leaders Phil Mickelson and his fellow American Billy Horschel.
"I'm three off the lead in the U.S. Open, and that's the difference of one hole," Poulter, a 12-times winner on the European Tour, told reporters after failing to get up and down from behind the green to save par at the uphill 18th.
"You can make birdie and someone can make double. But I'm right in position and right there where I want to be. It's going to be a fun weekend."
One under for his round when play was suspended in fading light on Friday, Poulter parred the difficult 15th before coming unstuck at the 16th where his tee shot ended up in a poor lie in the left fairway bunker.
"I had a massive lump of sand behind my ball and you don't want to be short coming out of that bunker with that canyon," he said of the task facing him with his approach over a quarry to an elevated green.
"I tried to almost thin it, it lands just on the green and dribbles off and it leaves me a nightmare chip shot."
Tricky number 18
Unable to get up and down from there to save par, Poulter slipped back to even.
He safely parred the short 17th, two-putting from just short of the green after his tee shot pitched on a ridge below the hole before his ball rolled back down the slope.
Though he split the fairway off the tee at the last, set up at 501 yards for the second round, Poulter wound up with another bogey on a hole he rates among the most difficult in the game.
His three-iron approach ran off the back of the green from where he left his chip eight feet short of the cup and then two-putted.
"I didn't get up and down," Poulter, whose best U.S. Open finish was a tie for 12th at Winged Foot in 2006, said of his final bogey.
"I think 18 is probably the hardest hole in golf right now.
"So, albeit it with two bogeys in the last three holes to finish round two, I'm right there, I'm right in position and let's look forward to what round three and four have."