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Mixed fortunes for trio

It was agony and ecstasy for two of England's stars at golf's richest event, while Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy endured mixed fortunes.

The ecstasy belonged to Ian Poulter, whose seven-under-par 65 set a target matched late in the day by Scot Martin Laird. The agony was Paul Casey's. Out for more than two months after dislocating his shoulder snowboarding on Christmas Eve, he was struggling with it again and after taking 42 to the turn withdrew on the next.

It not only ended his hopes of a first prize of well over £1million, but was a further blow to his chances of playing in the Ryder Cup this September. He was not alone in that. Simon Dyson pulled out with back trouble after a 76.

Casey said: "My shoulder felt tired and tender when I made my way to the first tee. I decided to give it a go as I thought I could play through it, but during the round it flared up, which is when I decided to withdraw.

"I am very disappointed. My game has been coming around and I felt confident, but my body told me otherwise. My recent schedule has been extremely busy and the lack of rest has taken its toll. It's a long season and my health is the number one priority."

Poulter, runner-up to Swede Henrik Stenson three years ago, knocked two strokes off his previous best score on the course and described it as one of the top 10 rounds of his career.

He and Laird, who kept a bogey off his card, were a stroke ahead of little-known American Blake Adams, but Tiger Woods was nine strokes back and in danger of a second successive missed cut - something he has never suffered before.

Woods was just outside the top 100 as the day's play drew towards it close and said: "Any kind of momentum that I would build I would shoot myself in the foot on the very next hole. For some reason it's just been one of those weird deals. Out here (on tour) you have to take care of the par fives and I haven't done a very good job of it lately.

"It was frustrating in the sense that my good shots ended up in bad spots and obviously my bad shots ended up in worse spots. In the last few months I've put together some good rounds and won a couple tournaments, so it's there - I just need to continue doing it."

As for McIlroy, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood - battling for world number one - it was a day of mixed fortunes. McIlroy, who went top again by being in a play-off at Quail Hollow last week, was going best until he went in the water on the short 17th and finished, like Donald, with a 72. Westwood, meanwhile, matched Phil Mickelson's 71.

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