Ian Poulter shares the lead at the Macau Open after shooting a 7-under 64 in his first competitive round since May.
Poulter, 40, has been sidelined since May with an arthritic foot condition, and he hasn't played since missing the cut at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational. The injury, which required surgery, relegated him to assistant captain duties for Team Europe at the Ryder Cup.
Poulter shares the early lead with Carlos Pigem, while Olympians Marcus Fraser and Anirban Lahiri are both two shots off the pace.
"I've never had four and a half months off in my life. It's an unusual position but I played nicely," Poulter told reporters. "I just tried to get my game in shape coming out here."
Poulter served as host of last year's British Masters, but opted to make his return on the Asian Tour rather than returning to the European Tour event, which this year is hosted by Luke Donald. The reason, according to a U.K. Express report, is that Poulter has made retaining his PGA Tour status a priority.
The Englishman has 10 starts to earn 218 FedEx Cup points or $347,634 in order to keep his card. He'll begin that quest next week at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, and Poulter believes playing in Macau is the best option to ensure he's fresh in Kuala Lumpur.
"I want to be there Sunday night, which I can do from Macau," Poulter said. "If I played the British Masters, it would mean going from the U.K. to Malaysia and I don't really want to pitch up jet-lagged. I just need to take care of my schedule for my reasons, get my status back and I will be playing a full schedule around the world as soon as I can."