Jiminez thrilled to find form again

Shane Lowry follows the flight of his ball to the 11th green during the Turkish Airlines Open at The Montgomerie Maxx Royal, Turkey. Picture: Richard Heathcote

Two weeks after struggling to break 90, Miguel Angel Jimenez carded a flawless 63 to claim the lead after the first round of the £4.5m Turkish Airlines Open.

Jimenez carded a final round of 88 in the first event of the Final Series, the BMW Masters, in Shanghai and also struggled in the following week’s HSBC Champions event to be a total of 33 over par for his last eight rounds.

But the oldest winner in European Tour history – he will celebrate his 51st birthday in January – bounced back brilliantly in Antalya by holing his second shot to the opening hole for an eagle and adding seven birdies to lead Ian Poulter by a shot at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal.

“It’s a good start. It’s nice making a low score, it’s been a while,” said Jimenez, who holed out from 105 yards on the 10th. “It’s special because I’ve been struggling a little bit the last few months and (when) you shoot under par, you feel good.”

Ireland’s Shane Lowry, bidding to get into the World’s top 50, was seven strokes off the lead after an opening round of 70. Darren Clarke was three over par following a 75 with Michael Hoey bringing up the rear of the field after a harrowing 82, which included four double-bogeys.

Poulter felt his second round of 67 last week was the best he had played in an injury-plagued year, but admitted after his 64: “I’d say that might just top it. It was good golf today. Teeing off on the 10th you have to make a quick start, knowing you’ve got some chances coming up before you’ve reached the stretch of five, six, seven, eight and nine, where you can slip up.

“I took care of the par fives really nicely today, six under on the par fives, which is always a key to scoring well, especially when you’ve got five of them. You’re going to have to do that well this week, play them well under par to have a chance to win.”

Poulter changed equipment recently in a bid to halt his slide down the world rankings – he moved from 44th to 40th after finishing joint sixth in Shanghai — but reverted to an old putter in Turkey and produced an eagle, seven birdies and one bogey.

“I’m right there,” he added. “Within the space of a couple of weeks, I feel really good. I don’t have any aches or pains, which is really nice. I feel strong and that means I can practice. And when I practice and start holing some putts, then I’m going to be full of confidence like I am right now.”

Tee times for today’s second round have been brought forward 90 minutes due to a forecast for thunderstorms.

- Denmark has dropped out of the contest to host the 2022 Ryder Cup, leaving six European nations in the running. Austria, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Turkey have announced their intention to submit a formal bid, with Turkey performing a U-turn after indicating they would wait until 2026 in order to construct a purpose-built venue. The host country and venue is due to be named in autumn 2015.


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