Poulter powers to early lead #VenetianMacaoOPen

Thu 13 Oct 2016

Poulter powers to early lead #VenetianMacaoOPen

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Macao, October 13: England’s Ian Poulter marked his return from a four-month injury layoff with a stylish seven-under-par 64 to hold the early lead in the Venetian Macao Open on Thursday.

The former Ryder Cup star birdied all the par five holes on

a blustery day at Macau Golf and Country Club without dropping a shot to pull two-shots clear from Australia’s Marcus Fraser, who made two eagles in his round of 66.

Birthday boy Miguel Tabuena of the Philippines, who turned 22 today, signed for a 67 to share third place with back-in-form Australian Marcus Both in the US$1.1 million Asian Tour tournament.

The afternoon session is currently in progress.

Poulter, a former world number five, was delighted to race out from the blocks with five birdies on his outward nine before securing two more birdies to set the early pace in the Asian Tour’s richest full field event of the season.

Marcus Fraser of Australia Marcus Fraser of Australia

“It’s very important as you have no idea what to expect. As much as you think you can prepare, I’ve never had four and half months off in my life. It’s an unusual position but I played nicely,” said the Englishman, who was a vice captain at the recent Ryder Cup for Europe.

“I just tried to get my game in shape coming out here. Today was a nice day, birdied all the par fives which is obviously very helpful and I didn’t make any mistake. It’s the type of course where if you don’t make a mistake, you can piece together a very nice score.”

He did not pick up his clubs for 14 weeks to rest his arthritic right foot and now has a carbon plate for his insole to help alleviate the injury.

“Obviously my first one with a scorecard in four and half months, so I’m very happy.. It’s a long way to go in this tournament. The most important thing I’ll take away from this is how solid I played, how nicely I putted and I’ve worked in all areas of my game to get ready and obviously it’s a great start,” he said.

“There’s no cure for arthritis, so rest and rehab and trying to take away the inflammation which is the key part. I’ve had the longest layoff of my life without touching my clubs which is unusual but I had to do it.”

Fraser, currently second on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, had a scare early on in his opening round with back spasm before he hit his first shot of the day. But after receiving treatment and taking pain killers, the Aussie hit the ground running, knocking in a superb three wood to eight feet for eagle on 18 and then holing out from the fairway on the eighth hole.

"Obviously my first one with a scorecard in four and half months, so I’m very happy.. It’s a long way to go in this tournament. The most important thing I’ll take away from this is how solid I played, how nicely I putted and I’ve worked in all areas of my game to get ready and obviously it’s a great start." - Ian Poulter

It’s a pretty colourful scorecard, that’s for sure,” said Fraser, who won in Malaysia earlier this season.

“My back went into a spasm when we were about to go off from the 10th tee. The physio came out to the 11th tee and I took some pain killers and stuff. Hopefully I’ll be able to get it sorted as it wasn’t feeling too good.”

Miguel Tabuena of Philippines Miguel Tabuena of Philippines

Tabuena birdied his ninth hole to ensure he stayed within touching reach of our leader leader. “I guess I just have to remind myself that golf is not a sprint but a marathon. We have a few more days and I’m happy with where I am,” said the Filipino, who won his first Asian Tour title at his home Open last December.

“My mum and girlfriend are here so it’s a special week. I turned 22 today but I already feel like a veteran on the Asian Tour. I’ve been here for six years and all the hard work is paying off.”

He was glad to overcome a bogey on his penultimate hole with a closing birdie. “I had a brain lapse on eight where I pulled a two iron and made bogey from 99 yards. I just told myself I was playing solid and I finished strong with a birdie on nine. I had to trust the club as I used the two iron again and nearly holed the approach after that,” he said.