Perhaps practice is overrated.
After boarding a last-minute flight to Hong Kong, Ian Poulter arrived in Asia and headed to the first tee of the UBS Hong Kong Open without the benefit of a practice round, detailed yardage book or his regular caddie.
But the Englishman had a decent working knowledge of Hong Kong Golf Club, having won there in 2010, and he relied on that experience to shoot a 3-under 67 Thursday while still fighting off jet lag. The score left him in a tie for 12th among the 78-man field, three shots behind Andrea Pavan and Wei-Chih Lu.
Poulter wasn't expecting to play this week, but a sudden drop in the world rankings left him needing an additional start to retain his European Tour membership. He boarded a flight Tuesday morning in Florida and landed in Hong Kong at 7 p.m. local time Wednesday.
"I guess in the circumstances, it was pretty good," Poulter said. "Overall, I've played pretty nicely on a course which I've had to get to know again pretty quickly. But I have to be happy with that after landing last night."
Poulter had five birdies against two bogeys, and his 67 put him on an early leaderboard that also includes Justin Rose (65), Graeme McDowell (66) and Patrick Reed (68).
"I like the golf course. Fanling suits my game," he said. "It's not all about length; it's about position in play off the tee. When you've shot low rounds on a golf course in the past, you know your lines, you know where you want to be putting from. So yeah, it was nice to get back out there on the course."
Those standings do not include Rich Beem, who had already flown from Texas to Hong Kong when Poulter's situation came to light. Beem opted to turn down his sponsor invite, paving the way for Poulter to gain last-minute entry into an event he needed to play to retain eligibility for next year's Ryder Cup.
"I saw Rich in the hotel this morning, so I went over and said, 'That's awfully kind of you to do this,'" Poulter said. "He didn't have to, but he was nice enough to do it, and yeah, I have to thank him for that."