By Ed Osmond
GULLANE, Scotland (Reuters) - Ian Poulter found his Ryder Cup rhythm to shoot a brilliant 67 in the final round of the British Open and earn a tie for third place on Sunday.
The 37-year-old Briton started the last round at Muirfield five over par, eight shots behind the leader, but he played inspired golf around the turn to make an eagle and three successive birdies.
Poulter dropped a shot at the 16th as he finished at one over par, four behind champion 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," he told reporters at Muirfield.
"I really put myself in a nice position. It was a shame to bogey 16 but four-under par today in those circumstances was obviously a very good round of golf."
Poulter said he has been inspired by British sporting success this year, including the U.S. Open triumph of Justin Rose.
"It's been an incredible summer and obviously Justin's win, being a close friend, someone that I've played a lot of golf with throughout the years, I was very proud to see him win that," he explained.
"It certainly spurred a lot of us guys to think that we can do exactly the same."
Poulter said his putter felt as hot in the final round at Muirfield as it did when he won four points to inspire Europe to a stunning comeback victory in last year's Ryder Cup.
"They were going in the middle like they were in Medinah," he said. "It was obviously quite nice. The excitement, the atmosphere, the fans out there were certainly giving me a lot of electricity and pumping me up."
Poulter, who never really fired in opening rounds of 72, 71 and 75, did not have a clear idea of what kind of score he needed to post to have a chance of winning his first major title.
"It's hard to go to bed last night and think I'm eight back, what do I need to get to, to win?," he said.
"I knew I needed to make birdies and not make bogeys. That was obviously one key factor in this.
"But I felt the way I've played this week, I definitely have put myself in a lot of good positions to make birdies and I probably haven't taken as many as I wanted to."
Poulter was his usual bubbly and positive self as he looked back on the Open.
"Playing golf back here in front of home fans is always a lot of fun," he said.
"You can feed off of the guys out there and that's exactly what I did around the turn. And it made it very enjoyable."
(Editing by Tony Jimenez)