Poulter hits a purple patch

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Ian Poulter has upstaged World No 1 Luke Donald and seized the lead in the opening round of the Australian Masters.

Ian Poulter literally hit a ‘purple patch’ on Thursday when he upstaged World No 1 Luke Donald and seized the lead in the opening round of the 2011 JBWere Australian Masters.

The colourful Englishman, resplendent in lilac tartan trousers, a lilac sweater and matching lilac shoes, fired a six-under-par 65 at Victoria Golf Club to gain a one-stroke advantage over local hopeful Ashley Hall heading into Friday’s second round..

He started sluggishly by dropping a shot at his second hole, the 11th, but made a dramatic recovery, picking up seven birdies for his 65.

Australians Peter Lonard, Jarrod Lyle and Matthew Giles were among six players on 67, two behind Poulter and one shot clear of two more Australians, Rod Pampling and Richard Green, and two ahead of Donald, whose victory in the Race to Dubai on Sunday established him as the first man ever to win the Money titles on both sides of the Atlantic in the same year.

Greg Chalmers, this season Australasian Tour star who is looking to add another trophy to those he has already won at the Australian Open and Australian PGA, matched Donald’s 69, while defending champion Stuart Appleby returned a 70 after deciding only at the last minute that he was fit to play.

He had been suffering from a painful back injury.

Poulter said he was still finding his way around Victoria after playing it for the first time in yesterday’s pro-am, but declared himself happy with the course.

“I enjoy playing that kind of golf,” Poulter said following his round.

“A number of the courses we play week in week out it seems like you are taking your driver head cover off on every single par four, par five and the odd the par three.

“It’s nice not to do that. It’s nice to hit the odd iron off the tee.

“So I like the way this golf course sets up for me.”

Donald, voted the US PGA Tour’s Player of the Year by his peers this week, singled out his putting as the main reason for his subdued start

“I hit it quite well on the back nine but (on) my front nine I just couldn’t a make putt,” said Donald, who can pride himself as being one of golf’s finest putters

“I had only two birdies, but no bogies so it could have been a lot worse. Could also have been a little bit better, but it’s something to build on.”

The unheralded Hall, 794th in the world rankings, began on the back nine and raced to the turn in 29, including five birdies and an eagle three at the shortish par-five 18th.

The 28-year-old winner of the 2009 Victorian Open had John Wade’s eight-year-old course record of 63 in his sights before stumbling towards the end of his round.

He double-bogeyed the eighth hole his 17th, after leaving his second shot in the bunker.

Appleby played with a back brace clearly visible under his black shot after working for an hour on the putting green and the practice range under the supervision of his coach Steve Bann and a physiotherapist before declaring himself ready to “give it a crack”.

The 40-year-old managed to shrug off similar injury concerns 12 months ago when the old adage, ‘beware of the inured golfer’, had some real significance and he went on to win the Australian Masters by one stroke from Adam Bland.

TOP 10 LEADERBOARD

65 Ian Poulter (Eng)
66 Ashley Hall (Aus)
67 Mahal Pearce (Nzl). Kieran Pratt (Aus), Jarrod Lyle titleist (Aus), Peter Lonard (Aus), Matthew Griffin (Aus), (Aus),Matthew Giles
68 Rod Pampling (Aus), Richard Green (Aus)

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