Friday, 19 March 2010
Barclays Singapore Open - Round One  (Getty Images)
Barclays Singapore Open - Round One (Getty Images)

Ian Poulter showed no effects from a six-week break as the Englishman claimed the lead midway through the first round of the Barclays Singapore Open after carding a five under par 66 at Sentosa Golf Club.

Poulter, whose last event was the BMW Championship in the middle of September, heads Ernie Els and Chinese Taipei's Chan Yih-shin by one stroke after he dropped just one shot around the Serapong Course.

Els and Chan both carded bogey-free rounds of 67 to claim a tie for second, although the South African missed a 15 foot birdie chance at his last hole of the day just seconds after Poulter had picked up his sixth birdie in the group behind.

Dane Anders Hansen, Japan's Kodai Ichihara and Frenchman Thomas Levet were tied for fourth at three under at the newly co-sanctioned event between The European Tour and Asian Tour, with World Number Two Phil Mickelson and Denmark's Søren Kjeldsen in a group tied for seventh a shot further back.

Poulter reached the turn in a solid two under 33 before recording his solitary bogey after he missed the green at the first - his tenth hole of the day - before two putting following a heavy chip from the rough.

But he picked up three birdies over his last six holes to set a competitive first round target considering conditions are expected to get tougher for the afternoon starters.

“It was nice. I have had six weeks off and it was nice to ease into a round of golf. I didn't know what to expect this week,” said Poulter.

“I have practised pretty hard over the last three weeks trying to get ready for seven weeks on the bounce.

“There were no mistakes on the back nine, my front nine. I then bogeyed the first and then managed to start hitting some shots to give myself some chances with a few holes to play.

“It's nice be able to come out fresh. To take some time off in the latter part of the year, do some good work and come out with some good intentions for the next five or six weeks. As many balls as you hit on the range, you don't know what it will be like, that is just my fourth round of golf in seven weeks.”

Els, meanwhile, was pleased with his first round effort but revealed he is considering a putter change after bringing two to Singapore.

“It is a good start to the tournament. I felt like I was really in control of my swing today. I hit the ball really nicely. Obviously I would have liked to make some more putts,” he said.

“I left a lot of putts out there I feel. That’s just the way it has been. I am hitting putts on line but they are not going in. It is a bit of a lull with the putter.

“I really want to figure it out with the putter. I don’t know if a different putter will help.”

Chan, who only secured his place in the event at qualifying on Monday, added: “Everything was great today, from my putting to my swing. It worked out really well out there - when I had a chance to attack the pins, I attacked, and my putting was really good and my tee shots put me in good positions.”


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