After failing to meet his own expectations for much of the year, Ian Poulter is on the cusp of some eleventh-hour redemption.
Poulter saw an equipment overhaul pay immediate dividends last week at the WGC-HSBC Champions, where he tied for sixth. The Englishman is eager to continue the momentum after opening with an 8-under 64 at the Turkish Airlines Open. He sits one shot behind leader Miguel Angel Jimenez after the first round.
Poulter explained earlier this week that his season to date has been marred by injuries, and the results reflect it: last week's T-6 in China was his first top-10 finish on the PGA Tour since the FedEx St. Jude Classic in June and just his second of the calendar year. After starting 2014 at No. 12 in the OWGR, he began play this week in Turkey as the 44th-ranked player in the world.
He had no troubles Thursday at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal, though, carding seven birdies to go along with an eagle and a bogey. Poulter was one of several players to get off to a hot start in the opening round, as he played his first six holes in 4 under.
"I've switched back to an old putter," Poulter told reporters. "I started to hit some good shots, rolled the putts in that I would expect to hole and that adds up to 8 under par.
"The new driver is also working exceptionally well. I was 6 under on the par 5s today which is always a key to scoring well."
Poulter's level of comfort may have also increased as the year draws to a close. He finished last year with a flurry, sandwiching runner-up finishes at the WGC-HSBC Champions and DP World Tour Championship around a T-5 finish in Turkey. With Dubai on deck next week, he is in early position to once again head into the offseason with some momentum. Six of his 12 individual European Tour wins have come in October or later on the calendar.