Scots ace Laird shares lead in golf’s most lucrative event

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SCOTLAND’S Martin Laird began the second round of the richest golf tournament in the world level with England’s Ian Poulter at the top of the leaderboard.

First-round 65s saw the British pair seize the opening-day initiative at the £5.8million Players Championship at Sawgrass in Florida. World top two Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald are already seven back, while Tiger Woods is nine adrift and in danger of missing a second successive cut for the first time in his career.

With a first prize of well over £1million, Laird knocked five shots off anything he had done before at the PGA Tour headquarters. The US-based Glaswegian put his impressive start down to his putting. He said. “I finally made some. I’ve always struggled here before and when it’s hard to get close to the pins you have to hole some putts.” Victory for Laird would catapult him into the Ryder Cup reckoning after he gave all his rivals a four-month start by not being a member of the European Tour last year.

Poulter wants victory, so he can buy himself a Ferrari Enzo. “I’ve been looking for one of them for a while,” he said. “It will be a nice addition to the stable. I haven’t got room, but I’ll find room – trust me. A couple of buggies will go, I think.”

Poulter added: “I like that it’s a proper challenge. You have to hit the right shot at the right time – it tests you to the highest. That’s probably in the top ten rounds I’ve ever played.”

Poulter put his fine start down to a clear mind at long last. A two-year saga over the building of a new home in Orlando is about to end. “I do fill my brain full of lots of funny things at times,” he said. “It’s nice when that’s empty and I can do what it is I love to do – go out there and play golf.”