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Birdie-man Coulter

Ian Poulter's good form in the United States continued as he moved into contention on the opening day of The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.

Fresh from a tie for fifth place at last week's Quail Hollow Championship, the Englishman kept his momentum going at the Players Stadium Course.

He carded a five-under-par 67 to move into an early tie for third place in the clubhouse, one shot off the lead held by American John Mallinger and Sweden's Richard S Johnson.

Poulter got his opening round up and running with a run of three birdies in a row between the fourth and sixth holes before bogeying the par-five ninth.

He bounced straight back with a birdie three at the 10th and then moved onto the leaderboard with birdies at the 16th and 17th, and completed the notoriously difficult closing stretch by saving par at the par-four 18th having found greenside rough.

The Ryder Cup star chipped out to nine feet and sank the par putt.

"I've played one week on, one week off until just after the Masters, so it's been hard to get into a routine," Poulter said.

"But my game's been in shape since then and I felt it was only a matter of time. This is my third week in a row and it's nice that I've only had seven tournaments ."

Poulter was also pleased with his putting, needing just 26 putts in his opening round.

"I changed to a putter two weeks ago that (the ball) comes off a bit slower, and the greens have been very quick the past couple of weeks and I just feel good.

Poulter was part of a five-man group on five under alongside Retief Goosen of South Africa and Americans Scott Verplank, David Toms and Jonathan Byrd.

Belfast Telegraph


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