Ian Poulter shares the lead as McIlroy struggles

Ian Poulter and Mark Hubbard share the lead after the first round of the RBC Heritage.

Ian Poulter shares the lead as McIlroy struggles
Ian Poulter shares the lead as McIlroy struggles

Ian Poulter shot his lowest round of the year to take a share of the lead with Mark Hubbard after the first round of the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Links in South Carolina, whilst Rory McIlroy struggled to find any form.

The small greens and narrow fairways at Harbour Town were proving a challenge for some, but Poulter finished his round with seven birdies and not a single bogey to shoot 64, a lead he shares with American and World No.164 Hubbard.

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Seven players form a pack chasing the lead at 6-under par, including promising superstar Viktor Hovland, who chipped in for eagle at the ninth - his last hole - to join Webb Simpson and others in T2.

Also in the hunt at 5-under par is Tony Finau, Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick and Jordan Spieth, who after finishing his opening nine holes 2-over par, made seven birdies in his closing nine, making six consecutively, the longest birdie streak of his career.

McIlroy struggled from the get-go, with loose drives being punished on numerous occasions. The World No.1 finished 1-over par and currently sits in T101. If McIlroy misses the cut, it will be his first missed cut since The Open.

Poulter, 44, was pleased with his opening round which he described as "pretty solid," but the Ryder Cup veteran belives he needs to be more accurate off the tee for the remainder of the week if he is to go on and win.

"Any time you shoot seven under par around this golf course, it's obviously a pretty solid day," said Poulter, who currently ranks 60th in the world. "When I teed off, knowing there was a little bit of rain in the forecast, but the opportunity with no wind, soft conditions, off to a perfect start. Made three birdies on the front nine, four on the back.

"I feel that I didn't hit it that well off the tee, so I need to go straight to the range and address a few leaky right tee shots. But my iron play was pretty solid. I holed out really well from inside seven feet, and it's obviously good to finish with two birdies on the last two holes."

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