Poulter in front after wonder putt

Extrovert Englishman sinks 70-footer at the last to take share of lead in Abu Dhabi

Show Ian Poulter a spotlight and he is prone to hop, skip and jump into its focus and make an exhibition of himself – particularly when he has been in the shadows awhile. So it was for the Englishman here yesterday as he took the first-round lead despite not playing for six weeks.

Perhaps it was no surprise that Poulter should choose to produce the most outrageous shot of this first day of the Abu Dhabi Championship just when the galleries happen to be at their largest. Underneath the grandstand of the 18th green, he rolled in a 70-footer for a seven-under 65, which put him at the head of the scoreboard alongside his countryman Richard Bland and South Africa's Kevin Horne and one ahead of a group including the Spaniard Sergio Garcia and Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy. Typically Poulter referred to the monster putt as "a nice little bonus".

"One of my goals at the start of the year was to hole more 20-foot putts," he said. "And I said to my caddie 'I hope you're keeping count, a few of those are going in'. And they just kept going in. They dried up on the back nine a little – but there was that little bonus on the last."

Still, even blessed with his confidence, Poulter hardly ventured out on to the National Course anticipating such a low number. "I wasn't expecting to come out quite as fast, but I'll take it," said the world No 12. "I hit it lovely. I started practising on Tuesday and I didn't feel 70 per cent let alone the way it was today. I put extra sessions in on Tuesday and Wednesday and my hands were raw and sore. I've done an awful lot of hard work and it definitely paid off."

In truth, all the signs pointed to a positive result for Poulter this week. After all, he returned from a similar break to end a two-year winless streak at the end of last year. "I'd taken six weeks off before Singapore, and I've done a very similar thing this time around, putting the clubs down for three-and-a-half weeks," he said. "So I'm fresh and I'm hungry to go. When you take a five-week break you are excited to go back out there and perform."

Certainly, Poulter has plenty to perform for, what with him being so close to his long-stated mission to enter the world's top 10. Then there is the Ryder Cup, which he is intent on making by right and not having to go through Colin Montgomerie's wildcard selection.

Indeed, we may be in January but already those three days in October are influencing the professionals in so many aspects. Take Martin Kaymer. The young German is prepared to set off metal detectors in airports for the rest of the year in his determination to make it to Celtic Manor.

After an opening 67, Kaymer revealed how he intends to play an entire season with the plates and screws in his foot which were inserted after a go-karting accident last August. Four broken toes sidelined the 25-year-old for two months and eventually did for his money list hopes. He is not about to let the injury affect his playing ambitions again – even if it would be for just 20 days.

"The doctor said that if I take the plates out it could take two and a half weeks to recover, but that is not possible at the moment," he said. "I don't take three-week breaks. So they will have to stay in there. I will probably take them out in December."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee