Poulter Storms into Lead


Young Englishman Ian Poulter displayed Friday why he was chosen as last seasons European Tour rookie of the year, as he carded a beautiful round of 6-under-par 67 to grab the outright lead of the Moroccan Open.
Through 36 holes at the Dar-es-Salams Red Course, the 24-year-old has established a bit of a comfort zone between he and the rest of the field at 8-under 138.
He leads by two strokes over Craig Hainline (72) of the United States, and by three over the duo of Robert Karlsson (71) and Thomas Levet (68). Hank Kuehne is among a group of several players at 4-under, four shots back.
Poulters second round was one of perfection, as he went about his business of carding six birdies against no bogies. It was reminiscent of the kind of play he displayed at last seasons Italian Open, in which he took his first title on the European Tour.
On the range this morning it felt good, Poulter said. Every iron I pulled out of the bag on the range was going good and straight and the driver was doing the same as well. I took that out on the course for the first few holes. You have to find the right part of the greens, but hitting the fairways is the main thing out there.
Thus far in 2001, hitting fairways ' and everything else for that matter ' has been a bit of mixed bag for Poulter. In seven starts, he has made five cuts, but has only finished inside the top-40 one time.
However, that occurrence came at the Greg Norman Holden International in a placing of third, just one shot off the winning score of Aaron Baddeley.
In addition, it was at this very same Dar-es-Salam course last year that Poulter finished in a tie for second, with only eventual champion Jamie Spence ahead of him.
This week, Poulter is hoping for slightly better results.
One better than last year would be fine, he joked.
Also hoping for slightly better results this week is Karlsson. After leading through the third round of the Qatar Masters earlier this season, a final round 73 cost him his first win since the 1999 Belgacom Open.
Although just two shots back entering this weekend, Karlsson was not quite thrilled with his game just yet.
I drove the ball badly, he claimed. Only hit four fairways.
But its nice to be in it. Thats what you are here for.
Like Karlsson, Hainline shared the thoughts of improving his play for the weekend. Yet while Karlsson was talking of hitting more fairways, it was more putting surfaces that the American claimed he needed to find.
I hit a lot more greens yesterday than today, said Hainline. I must try not to get caught up in the leaderboard. Its just good to get in position. You never know what might happen.
Full-Field Scores from The Moroccan Open