KIAWAH ISLAND — For nine holes, Ian Poulter tamed one of America’s toughest golf courses.

Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course has a reputation for being the most difficult golf course in the country. But that didn’t seem to faze Poulter, who shot a 31 over the first nine holes in Sunday’s final round of the PGA Championship.

He faded on the back nine, finishing with a 3-under 69, but for several hours he put on a golfing exhibition few have seen at the Ocean Course.

Fans streamed to his threesome to watch him play. Poulter reeled off birdies like he was on a miniature golf course. He birdied six of the first seven holes.

“I’ve never had a better start. I mean I couldn’t have asked to get off to a better start in a major,” Poulter said. “Certainly not when you have to go out there and play well. I mean six of the first seven holes, making birdie, I don’t think I’ve done that before.”

He had birdies at 10, 11 and 12 and got to 8-under par, two shots behind runaway PGA Championship winner Rory McIlroy. For the briefest of moments, he caught the attention of McIlroy, who was on his way to an eight-shot victory.

“I knew what Ian was doing,” McIlroy said. “I had a peek at a couple of leaderboards out there and saw he was 7-under through 8. I knew he was off to a great start.”

But then things started to go wrong for Poulter, who bogeyed 13, 14 and 15.

“I guess I ran out of a little bit of steam coming around the turn,” Poulter said. “I came unstuck right there. I didn’t press at all. I just thought I needed not to make any mistakes and unfortunately I made three on the spin which was a real shame.

“Of course I’m looking at the board and I want to see where Rory is. Making six of the first seven I knew I had a chance to be fairly close. I just couldn’t get any closer.”

Poulter ended the tournament tied for third place at 4-under 284. All in all a memorable week and an unforgettable nine holes.

“I was a great day, I hit a lot of good golf shots. It was a good week for me. It’s just a shame I couldn’t finish if off.”