Poulter takes early lead at Aust Masters
BY Bruce Young | Australasian PGA Tour | 2011 Australian Masters | Round One | 15 Dec 2011
England’s Ian Poulter, the World number 28 golfer and second highest ranked in this week’s J.B Were Masters at the Victorian Golf Club in Melbourne, leads at the end of the opening day of the final event of the worldwide golfing season.
Poulter enjoys a one shot margin over Victorian golfer, Ashley Hall, who after a fast start to his professional career is slowly but surely consolidating his place in the paid ranks.
Poulter’s morning round of 65 stood the test of a day-long attempt by the rest of the field to match his early brilliance and even Poulter himself could have been forgiven for thinking that he too might struggle to take advantage of the benign conditions.
Poulter recovered from an early bogey with a birdie at his third hole but it took until his 6th hole for the momentum to build. He would birdie five of his next six holes to race to five under. It would take him until his final hole to pick up the one extra birdie he needed the grab the outright lead but once he had completed his round it was a case of catch me if you can.
Poulter has just completed an indifferent season, the highlight of which was his victory in the Volvo World Match Play Championship in Spain where he defeated Luke Donald in the Final. It has however been a season which has seen him slip from 11th at the start of the year to 28th in the World Ranking.
According to Poulter part of the attraction of playing this event is to improve his standing in world golf as some of his contracts are written on the basis of how he finishes the season on the World Ranking.
“I’m fully aware this is my last tournament of the year so I need to play well,” he said after his round. “That is how most guys get paid nowadays, namely where they finish on the world ranking. For guys that play a global schedule then the only way to get paid is obviously on your average on your world rankings.”
He was of course referring to those contractual incentives so a win to Poulter would be worth a lot more than the title, the first prize cheque and the appearance money he has no doubt attracted for being here.
Poulter was quick to sing the praises of the Victoria Golf Club I enjoy playing that type of golf he said when responding to a question on the requirement for positional rather than power play around this golf course.
“I enjoy playing that type of golf. It’s refreshing because a number of the courses we play week in week out it seems like you are taking the driver head-cover off on every single par 4 or 5 and event on the odd par 3. So it’s nice not to do that and nice to be hitting the odd iron off the tee. I enjoy that type of golf – putting it in play and giving yourself chances.”
Hall burst out of the blocks and by the 10th hole he was 8 under and although he had the considerably more difficult front nine still to play the possibility of something very special was shaping. The converted par five eight however would catch him out as it would many on day one when he found the bunker from the tee and got a little greedy with his escape.
The double bogey there came on top of a bogey at the most difficult hole on day one, the 5th and what had looked at one stage like a round in the low 60’s became a round of 66. It was still very good however and the man who has already won an event on Melbourne’s Sandbelt, when successful at the 2009 Victorian Open, is well positioned for a great week.
“I probably took an unwarranted risk at the 8th,” said Hall after his round referring to his strategic approach at the 8th. “But I am still happy with the round and happy with the decision. It is perhaps a little disappointing but if you had told me I would shoot 66 when I teed off this morning I would have been pretty happy with it.”
Hall has previously won the Victorian PGA and Open Championships the first of those coming soon after turning professional. He plays the One Asia Tour where he had good success up there in 2011 finishing 14th on their Order of Merit.
There is a large group at 4 under including two time winner Peter Lonard. Lonard is fighting his way back from knee and hip surgery in 2010 but showed today that when his game is right the prolific winner of Australian titles is still capable of mixing it at this level. He was disappointed not to secure the almost automatic birdie at his final hole but his round of 67 was very encouraging.
Former New Zealand Open winner, Mahal Pearce is another at 4 under along with Victorians Matthew Griffin, Kieran Pratt and Jarrod Lyle and the man who produced the best of the afternoon rounds, Matthew Giles from Sydney, a former World Junior Champion.
Rod Pampling and Richard Green are at 3 under, Green playing in the afternoon group.
A large group are at 2 under including amongst others the pre tournament favourite, Luke Donald, Brendan Jones, Nathan Green and the man chasing the triple-crown Greg Chalmers.
The cut appears as if it might fall round the 3 or 4 over mark but this is a very congested leader-board with very few shooting themselves in the foot during day one.
The most obvious in that category however are Robert Allenby and Italian teenage sensation Matteo Manassero. Allenby had 73 and Manassero 76.
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