Justin Rose sits pretty in Hong Kong clubhouse but Ian Poulter is close behind

Published: Friday 23rd October 2015 by The News Editor

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Pre-tournament favourite Justin Rose set the early clubhouse target in the UBS Hong Kong Open on Friday, but admits he is wary of the challenge posed by Ryder Cup team-mate Ian Poulter.

Rose and Poulter both shot 66 in the second round at Fanling to finish nine and seven under par respectively, with Denmark’s Lucas Bjerregaard on eight under after his second consecutive 66.

Poulter dropped out of the world’s top 50 on Sunday and was therefore ineligible for his planned appearance in the upcoming WGC-HSBC Champions event in Shanghai, meaning he would be unable to play the 13 events required for European Tour membership.

Only members can qualify for Europe’s Ryder Cup team and that meant the 39-year-old was forced into a frantic journey from Orlando to Hong Kong – via New York – but only after former US PGA champion Rich Beem generously agreed to give the Englishman his tournament invite.

” Poulter is a past champion is and he’s on the leaderboard,” Rose said. “He’s always good when he’s got something to prove and he’s probably a dangerous guy now that he’s outside the top 50 in the world, and I know that he’ll be desperate to get back in it.

“He always plays well when he has motivation, so he’s obviously going to be tough to beat.”

As for his own form, world number seven Rose carded five birdies and his first bogey of the week before seeking treatment for a minor hip problem.

“I felt like I struggled with the recovery overnight,” added the former US Open champion, who played in the Frys.com Open in California last week. “I just felt like my body was sore this morning and today was definitely more of a struggle than yesterday.

“I don’t know what it is. My left hip is really sore. A bit of physio and relaxing this afternoon, and I’ll try and figure that out. Maybe I wasn’t quite clearing through the ball as well as yesterday but I’ll be fine.

“Obviously I’m in a wonderful position going into the weekend. This course gave me some trouble last time I played it, so it was nice to figure out more of a decent game plan, which has paid off so far.”

Poulter, who only arrived in Hong Kong at 7pm on Wednesday, carded six birdies and two bogeys as he looks to win the Hong Kong Open for the second time.

“I g ot a decent amount of sleep last night, which is always handy,” Poulter said. “I fell asleep at 7.45 and I wasn’t looking forward to what time I was going to wake up, but I managed to get through to 4am.

“There’s a lot of good golf in there. I’m very happy and obviously it’s nice to be in this position.

“I don’t play to take part, I obviously play to win. Even coming in as late as I did, focusing on shooting a good score was really key. And I know this golf course. I’ve shot 60 around here before.

“So albeit that I had not played a practice round, I’ve got good memories on this golf course. I know the place, I like it. And hopefully I can have a good weekend.”

Published: Friday 23rd October 2015 by The News Editor

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