Two weeks after struggling to break 90, Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez carded a flawless 63 to claim the lead after the first round of the £4.5m Turkish Airlines Open.
Jimenez carded a final round of 88 in the first event of the Final Series, the BMW Masters, in Shanghai and also struggled in the following week’s HSBC Champions event to be a total of 33 over par for his last eight rounds.
But, at 50, the oldest winner in European Tour history bounced back in Antalya by holing his second shot to the opening hole for an eagle and adding seven birdies to lead Ian Poulter by a shot at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal.
“It’s a good start. It’s nice making a low score, it’s been a while,” said Jimenez, who holed out from 105 yards on the 10th. “It’s special because I’ve been struggling a little bit the last few months and (when) you shoot under par, you feel good.”
Poulter felt his second round of 67 last week was the best he had played in an injury-plagued year, but admitted after his 64: “I’d say that might just top it. Teeing off on the 10th hole you have to make a quick start, knowing you’ve got some opportunities coming up before you’ve reached the stretch of five, six, seven, eight and nine, which you can slip up on.
“I took care of the par fives really nicely, six under on the par fives, which is always a key to scoring well, especially when you’ve got five of them. You’re going to have to do that well this week to have a chance to win.”
Poulter changed equipment recently in a bid to halt his slide down the world rankings – he moved from 44th to 40th after finishing joint sixth in Shanghai – but reverted to an old putter in Turkey and produced an eagle, seven birdies and one bogey.
Low scoring was the order of the day as 50 of the 78-strong field broke par but the three players attempting to prevent Rory McIlroy being crowned European No 1 for the second time in two years struggled to make an impression.
Sergio Garcia, Jamie Donaldson and Marcel Siem can still overtake McIlroy at the top of the Race to Dubai, but only if they win both in Turkey and next week’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship. Siem’s 70 was the best the trio could manage, with Donaldson falling back from three under to level par and Garcia struggling to a 75.
Yorkshire duo Danny Willett and Simon Dyson are in contention after carding 67 and 68, respectively.