Poulter's drive puts him in front as Tiger faces missing second consecutive cut
23:46 GMT, 10 May 2012
One of the best rounds of his career has left Ian Poulter a step closer to the car of his dreams.
The not so shy and retiring Englishman shot a brilliant first round 65 at the Players Championship on Thursday and intends to treat himself to a $1million Ferrari Enzo should he claim the $1.7m winner's cheque on Sunday night.
It's over half a century now since Viv Nicholson won the pools and promised to 'Spend, Spend, Spend.'
Water display: Poulter shares the lead with Laird after a brilliant first-round display from the Englishman
Our Poults might be the modern-day
golfing equivalent with the notable difference it's not luck that has
put him in this enviable position but his own skill and work ethic.
Just as well, mind, given his lavish
tastes. On Sunday night, Poulter finally moves into his new home in
Orlando that has taken, would you believe, almost three years to build.
Such is his love of cars the multi-story garage alongside it is already
full of exotic specimens.
'I'll find room for one more, you can be sure of that,' said the 36 year old, smiling.
Late surge: Martin Laird joined Poulter at the summit of the leaderboard after his seven-under par 65
On a tricky day of capricious breezes
and tough pin positions, Poulter's golf was Ferrari-good, and left him
in a tie for the lead with the American-based Scot, Martin Laird.
Thanks to his victory in the Arnold
Palmer Invitational last year, 29 year old Laird already has a victory
in Florida to his name and chipped and putted beautifully for his
From the 9th, Poulter had one of
those runs that happen to even the best putters only once or twice a
season, when the hole looks the size of a bucket. He had nine single
putts in a row, taking full advantage of a series of imperious iron
Out of sorts: Casey was forced to withdraw after taking 42 to the turn
'It was back to the good old days as
a junior when I'd hole it from everywhere,' he said. A bit different,
of course, doing it in a $7m event rather than for a Mars bar.
Luke Donald had talked in the
build-up about the importance of a great short game here and that's
exactly what Poulter has when he is on his game. Nothing was better than
the 25 yard bunker shot he played at the par five 11th to just 4ft.
In his last two appearances in
America, Poulter finished third at Bay Hill and seventh at the Masters.
After a slow start to the season he is showing a burst of acceleration
akin to the cars he likes to drive.
Picture perfect: But Woods was in danger of missing a second consecutive cut after his two-over par 74
Laird and Poulter finished a shot ahead of a 36-year-old American called Blake Adams, and fair play if you've heard of him.
As is invariably the way on tough
venues these days, while the in-form were blazing away on one side of
the golf course, Tiger Woods was playing the role of the infirm on the
In the last two years in this event he has pulled up lame and is now in danger of another early exit after a dismal opening 74.
Another low beckons, for a poor round
today would see him missing a second successive halfway cut for the
first time in his career.
The UK's big three were all out in
the afternoon and, with the greens drying out, struggled to live up to
their billing as the three best players in the world.
Rory McIlroy, Donald and Lee Westwood
will all hope for kinder conditions this morning to get themselves back
into contention after shooting prosaic scores of 72, 72 and 71
McIlroy became yet another victim of
the notorious island green par three 17th, finding the water with his
tee shot to spoil a decent round.
He was playing with Phil Mickelson
and drew comfortably the largest crowd seen all day. Over the front nine
the 23 year old lived up to his pre-tournament promise to curb his
natural instincts and some smart golf saw him reach the turn in a
two-under par 34. The back nine was disappointing by comparison and leaves him with work to do.
'It was certainly disappointing to
give a couple of shots back but nothing that a few birdies on the front
nine in the morning won't cure,' said Rory.
Westwood didn't play the 17th hole
too convincingly either to run up a bogey four. The real damage to his
card, however, was done at the par-four seventh where, after a run of
three birdies in five holes, he had bunker trouble and carded a double
'I'm a glass half-full person, so I'll think about the seven birdies I made and take it from there,' said Westwood.
Playing alongside him, Donald endured
a very un-Donald-like round as he mixed birdies with bogeys. At the
14th he even hit Westwood's manager Chubby Chandler with a wayward
drive, the ball ricocheting 40 yards to the right. Donald's caddie John
McLaren raised a laugh when he attempted to give Chandler a golf ball as
compensation. Two birdies in his last three holes, however, got Donald
back to parity and he will look to build on that momentum.
Elsewhere, consistent Londoner Brian
Davis continued the splendid run of form that has seen him post two top
four finishes recently with a 68. Ireland's Padraig Harrington shot 69.
As ever round here, there were a
litany of minor disasters to go alongside the fine play. It was hard not
to feel sympathy for Simon Dyson and the injury-prone Paul Casey who
withdrew with sciatic and shoulder injuries respectively.
Then there was former Masters and US
Open Champion Angel Cabrera, who ran up a nine at the 17th and then
announced he was withdrawing for 'personal reasons.' Perhaps he'd run out of golf balls.