Ian Poulter rolled in five birdies against no bogey to share a three-way lead after the first round of the Dunlop Phoenix tournament yesterday, in a solid start to the end of his winless season.
British Open champion Padraig Harrington started his defense of the title in an erratic fashion as he eagled his first hole but fired four birdies against four bogeys to hole out three strokes off the pace.
Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Chris Campbell of Australia stood one stroke behind at 66 after a round under the sunshine on the Phoenix Golf Club course.
Another South Korean, S.K. Ho, stood one shot further back with Japan's Shingo Katayama, Daisuke Maruyama and Yasuharu Imano in the US$1.7 million tournament, the richest in Japan.
Britain's Luke Donald was bunched at 69 with the likes of Sweden's Henrik Stenson and Finland's Mikko Ilonen.
The Dunlop Phoenix tournament has brought together some 70 regulars on the Japan Tour and eight foreign players on sponsors' exemptions, vying for the winner's purse of US$330,000.