Poulter Makes Solid Start To Open Qualifying Bid In Hong Kong

Ian Poulter is attempting to qualify for the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool at an Asian Tour event in Hong Kong

Ian Poulter takes a shot at the 2023 Dubai Desert Classic
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Ian Poulter got his bid to qualify for the Open Championship off to a solid if unspectacular start with a two-under round of 68 at the World City Championship in Hong Kong – putting him five shots off the lead.

Down at 149 in the world and with legal arguments about playing on the DP World Tour still ongoing, Poulter has said that the Hong Kong event is his big chance to qualify for the Open.

The Asian Tour event at Hong Kong Golf Club is part of the Qualifying Series for the 151st Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, with the top four finishers booking their ticket to Hoylake.

It marks the return of top-level golf to Hong Kong for the first time in three years – with the event losing DP World Tour status in 2018 but being played as a solely Asian Tour event in 2020.

And the venue should be a positive for Poulter – who won the 2010 Hong Kong Open with a record 22-under-par total, so he’ll feel confident of a strong showing again.

The Englishman picked up three birdies and made just one bogey to sign for a 68 on the par-70 layout at Fanling, which did not light up the track but was solid enough – hitting 11/14 fairways and 16/18 greens.

His 68 leaves the 47-year-old in T18 after the first round and five shots off leader Miguel Tabuena of the Philippines – who won last week’s DGC Open on the Asian Tour.

“I am riding on some of the momentum from last week,” said Tabuena. “It is very early in the week to even think about the finish line but if I play the way I am playing I know I will give myself a good chance, on the back nine on Sunday.

“It’s been five years since I have experienced a victory on the Asian Tour and I got a text from Harry Sese, who works on my fitness and is the main guy for Jon Rahm and a fellow Filipino, saying ‘Migs stay hydrated, I know your energy levels can be low especially after a win so it’s very important to recover’.”

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Local rising star Taichi Kho is sitting in second on six under and looking to build on his promising start as a Pro, as the 22-year-old Hong Kong native has made the cut in his first two events since coming through Asian Tour Qualifying School in January.

“Just an incredible start,” said Kho. “I was quite nervous, there has been a lot going on with media. I was really nervous waking up this morning but once I stepped onto the tee it kind of flowed. Had a good round but was more proud about how I was able to channel that. I used the nerves and adrenaline to my advantage.”

Scott Hend, the 2014 Hong Kong Open champion, is in third place on five under despite still struggling with the stomach big he picked up in New Delhi last week.

Fellow Australian Wade Ormsby is looking for a third Hong Kong Open title but had a slow start with a one-under round of 69.

The 2016 Open champion Henrik Stenson is also in the field in Hong Kong, although of course has no worries about qualifying to deal with, and he shot a level-par round of 70.

Paul Higham

Paul Higham is a sports journalist with over 20 years of experience in covering most major sporting events for both Sky Sports and BBC Sport. He is currently freelance and covers the golf majors on the BBC Sport website.  Highlights over the years include covering that epic Monday finish in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor and watching Rory McIlroy produce one of the most dominant Major wins at the 2011 US Open at Congressional. He also writes betting previews and still feels strangely proud of backing Danny Willett when he won the Masters in 2016 - Willett also praised his putting stroke during a media event before the Open at Hoylake. Favourite interviews he's conducted have been with McIlroy, Paul McGinley, Thomas Bjorn, Rickie Fowler and the enigma that is Victor Dubuisson. A big fan of watching any golf from any tour, sadly he spends more time writing about golf than playing these days with two young children, and as a big fair weather golfer claims playing in shorts is worth at least five shots. Being from Liverpool he loves the likes of Hoylake, Birkdale and the stretch of tracks along England's Golf Coast, but would say his favourite courses played are Kingsbarns and Portrush.