x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Fisher and Poulter lead birdie bonanza in Dubai

Ross Fisher and Ian Poulter lead the way with turbo-charged displays as the elite of European golf jockeyed for position on a day of superb low-scoring in the Dubai World Championship.

Ian Poulter carded a 66 today to share the lead with Ross Fisher at nine-under.
Ian Poulter carded a 66 today to share the lead with Ross Fisher at nine-under.

DUBAI // Ross Fisher and Ian Poulter led the way with turbo-charged displays as the elite of European golf jockeyed for position on a day of superb low-scoring in the Dubai World Championship second round.

In the two-way tussle to finish the season as the European No 1 on Sunday, the Race to Dubai leader Martin Kaymer opened an eight-shot advantage over Graeme McDowell who is second in the money list.

German Kaymer shot a 70 for a seven-under total of 137 while the Northern Irishma McDowell slumped to a 73 for 145.

"It's not over," said McDowell who is playing his fifth tournament in five weeks and acknowledged he felt mentally drained. "Going 65-65 at the weekend is not out of the question.

"I just have to rest," the Northern Irishman said. "I have got to somehow go out and relax and have a good time... and hang out by the hotel pool."

Irish Open champion Fisher was as relaxed as anyone on the Earth Course, equalling Lee Westwood's eight-under-par course record 64 set last year to finish on 135.

Poulter, bidding for back-to-back titles after his victory in the Hong Kong Open last Sunday, carded a 66 to join compatriot Fisher on nine-under.

World No 1 Westwood was one stroke adrift in third place after a 67 while fellow Englishman Paul Casey (67) also joined the birdie bonanza to take joint fourth spot on 137 with Kaymer and Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee (69).

Fisher made his intentions clear from the outset, birdying four of the first seven holes.

"To hit eight birdies and walk off this course without making a bogey is very pleasing," he said. "I drove the ball fantastically well.

"I didn't miss many fairways and I don't know how many greens I missed, if I did at all."

If Fisher's start was quick, Poulter's was lightning fast as he launched his round with four successive birdies.

Poulter's hot putter then cooled down as he picked up only two more birdies the rest of the way.

"Early fireworks early doors, that was fun," he said after a pinpoint nine-iron to six feet at the opening hole set the tone for his round. "I am obviously carrying some form from last week."

He and playing partner Westwood exchanged plenty of friendly banter especially as the latter had jokingly disparaged Poulter's attire on Twitter yesterday.

"We had a bit of fun last night," said Poulter after toning down his normal colours with an unusually bland ensemble of white striped shirt and plain dark trousers. "I think the banter is great. He has got a great sense of humour," he added referring to Westwood, the latest addition to the growing golfing Twitterati.

"My new white driver is also working very well. I'm always putting the ball in position and if you drive it in the fairway a lot then you hit your irons pretty good."

Westwood again showed why he is ranked the world's top player.

The 37-year-old Englishman is competing for only the second time in seven weeks due to a long-term leg injury but there was little sign of rust when he roared out of the blocks with three birdies in a row.

Westwood dropped shots at the fifth and 14th but made amends with birdies at the sixth, eighth, 10th and 17th.

"I made a couple of mistakes out there, probably through not having played a lot recently," he said. "I missed from a foot and a half at the fifth and then made a pig's ear of the 14th.

"I also kept losing my driver to the left so I think I'm going to go to the practice range now. I think the head is about to go, I've brought a spare and I'll do a bit of testing."