Poulter fires 65, shares lead after 1st round in Abu Dhabi

BY foxsports • January 21, 2010

Ian Poulter of England shot a 7-under 65 Thursday to share a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Abu Dhabi Championship.

Poulter made seven birdies, including holing a 70-foot putt at the last after a poor shot from a greenside bunker.

"I didn't expect to hole a 70-footer," said Poulter. "I just wanted to two putt, and in fact hit it so hard that if the ball had not hit the back of the hole it would have gone 10 foot past. It was good to get a lucky break and you have to take them.

"But I had not expected to play so well. When I arrived here and started practicing, I didn't feel my golf was 70 percent of where it should be. So on Tuesday I put in a hard session, which left my hands red, raw and sore, and it paid off."

Also at 65 were Richard Bland of England and Keith Horne of South Africa.

Bland also made seven birdies. He has played professionally for 10 years but was only two places inside the safety mark to retain his playing card last year.

Horne had an eagle and five birdies in his first European Tour event. He finished equal second at the Johburg Open last week to receive an invitation to play in Abu Dhabi.

Sergio Garcia of Spain and Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland shot 66s to follow in a group of nine.

Defending European money list winner Lee Westwood had a 69. The Englishman showed his lack of practice after taking a seven-week break since winning the Dubai World Championship.

Todd Hamilton shot a 68 in an early sign of a return to form after losing all his playing rights on the PGA Tour last year.

The American, who won the 2004 British Open Championship at Royal Troon, has taken out full membership of the European Tour where he has an exemption through to 2013.

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