Two weeks after admitting to “throwing away” a chance to win the Honda Classic, Ian Poulter put himself in position to make amends with an impressive opening round five-under at Bay Hill.
Poulter held a three-shot lead in the weather-delayed final round at PGA National, only to dump five balls into the water in a closing 74 which left him one shot outside the play-off between eventual winner Padraig Harrington and Daniel Berger.
The world No 32 has bounced back with a bogey-free 67, firing three birdies as well as an eagle at the par-five 16th to sit just one stroke adrift of early pacesetter Morgan Hoffman.
???Five-under is a nice day,??? Poulter told Sky Sports 4. “I played lovely today, as nice as I have in a few weeks.
???If I look at the stats of hitting at the proximity to the hole, today would be one of those rounds where I’ve hit it very close and had plenty of chances. I had a few lip-outs, but no mistakes and a clean card which is key.
???I like this golf course; it sets up good for me. I???m in good form and I???m pretty happy.???
On a crowded leaderboard, Poulter was joined on five-under by American quartet Jason Kokrak, Kevin Na, Ken Duke and John Peterson, with the likes of Adam Scott, Harrington and world No 3 Henrik Stenson a further shot back.??
First round leader Hoffmann fired four birdies and an eagle ??? holing out from a bunker on the par-five sixth ??? despite discovering before the round that his grandmother had passed away in the early hours of the morning at the age of 97.
Poulter had his own family worries when his youngest son Joshua was taken to hospital this week suffering from pneumonia, but added: “It’s nice to have him back home and hopefully he has a speedy recovery.”