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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 May 2006, 20:07 GMT 21:07 UK
Poulter gets off to a solid start
Ian Poulter concentrates on the putting line
Arsenal fans Poulter left Paris disappointed after the Champions League loss to Barcelona
Ian Poulter defied bad weather, lack of sleep and even a rules row to contend strongly in the Irish Open first round.

High winds caused a six-hour suspension to play at Carton House and then heavy rain affected the restart, but Poulter ground out a round of one-under-par 71.

That left the Briton only a shot off the lead held on 70 by compatriot and surprise front-runner Iain Pyman.

Poulter only returned to Ireland in the early hours of Thursday after flying to Paris for the Champions League final.

The Arsenal fan, who saw his team lose 2-1 to Barelona, put in a solid display over 13 holes before the high winds, causing balls to move on the green, halted play in late morning.

An equally steady finish by Poulter earned him a share of early second place with Irishman Padraig Harrington.

"I didn't anticipate spending 12 hours at the golf course after only a couple of hours sleep," said Poulter.

"It was certainly a lot quicker to jump on a plane and go to Paris. You needed a lot of concentration and I'm happy to be one-under."

The 30-year-old Englishman, already with six tour titles to his name, had to experience a spat between his two playing-partners, Kenneth Ferrie and Paul McGinley, who retired from the event during the suspension to go for an operation on his left knee.

Ferrie was given a two-shot penalty for replacing his ball on the 14th (their fifth) green when it moved in the wind when he should have played it from where it came to rest.

Wrong advice had been given by McGinley and the pair had words over the incident.

Pyman, who has missed seven cuts in his last nine events, birdied two of the last three holes to lead the way.

Course-designer Colin Montgomerie missed an 18-inch putt on the last on his way to a 77.

Half the field of 156 will have to complete their opening rounds on Friday when play will start at 0630 GMT.

They include Spaniard Ignacio Garrido who is three-under-par after six holes.

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