Clarke struggles in Macau but Poulter thrilled with joint lead

Clarke struggles in Macau but Poulter thrilled with joint lead
 MACAO 13 October 2016 : Darren Clarke pictured during the round one of Venetian Macau Open 2016 at the Macao Golf & Country Club, Macao. Pix by Arep Kulal / IMG / Asian Tour

MACAO 13 October 2016 : Darren Clarke pictured during the round one of Venetian Macau Open 2016 at the Macao Golf & Country Club, Macao. Pix by Arep Kulal / IMG / Asian Tour

Darren Clarke had 35 putts and just two single putts in three over 74 as Ian Poulter fired a seven under 64 to share the lead with Carlos Pigem in the $1.1 million Venetian Macau Open.

The European Ryder Cup captain ended the day tied for 101st as he made three bogeys and no birdies in his first start since defeat at Hazeltine.

Poulter was a vice-captain in Minnesota and having missed four and a half months of the season through injury, the Englishman was delighted to card a bogey free, seven under 64 to tie for the lead with Spaniard Pigem.

"Obviously my first one with a scorecard in four and half months, so I’m very happy," said Poulter, who seven birdies and no mistakes. "It’s very important as you have no idea what to expect. As much as you think you can prepare, I’ve never had four and half months off in my life. It’s an unusual position but I played nicely.

"It’s a long way to go in this tournament. The most important thing I’ll take away from this is how solid I played, how nicely I putted and I’ve worked in all areas of my game to get ready and obviously it’s a start.

"There’s no cure for arthritis, so rest and rehab and trying to take away the inflammation which is the key part. I had numerous cortisone injections and I had to be aware I couldn’t take any more of those on board. It was a case of resting and wearing different orthotics.

"I’ve got a carbon plate in the foot, it’s a bit awkward. It’s going to be there, it’s not going to go away so obviously I’ve got to manage it from a perspective of pain relief. I’ve not taking any pain killers or anti inflammatory in the past several months and that’s the best thing I could possibly do. I’ve been using laser therapy, about a year ago.

"I have a machine at home and if I feel the pain coming back, I treat it with laser and it’s been effective.

"I had the longest layoff of my life without touching my clubs. It must have been at least 14 weeks without picking a club up which is unusual but I had to do it. I had to get the repetitiveness off that foot as that created the arthritis.

"It was pretty late I decided to come to Macao. It’s difficult as the British Masters is on this week and I would have wanted to play in it. But for me I’ve got only a minimum number of events to play for PGA Tour status and obviously next week (CIMB Classic) is one of those I’m playing.

"I wanted to be in the right time zone without jetlag. It was a tough decision as Ihosted it last year and it’s a big event."

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