Despite having seen the course for the first time on Wednesday, the World Number 28 started his Melbourne campaign with a 6-under 65 to take a one shot overnight lead.
Victorian local Ashley Hall was alone in second spot on 5-under while six players including former Champion Peter Lonard, Victoria Golf Club Member Matt Griffin, Jarrod Lyle, Mahal Pearce, Kieran Pratt and Matthew Giles are a further stroke back at 4-under par.
Playing alongside Rod Pampling (-3) and Lyle (-4,) Poulter got off to a shaky start bogeying the 11th, his second hole of the day, but recovered quickly with a birdie on the 12th.
Poulter found three more birdies before turning at 18 and another three on the 1st, 2nd and 9th holes to take the outright lead.
“The only mistake I made today was a three-putt from about 20 feet on my second hole, the 11th. So that’s probably the only frustrating thing. I hit a lot of good golf shots. I missed a couple of greens in the wrong spots, but managed to make a couple of great up and downs,” said Poulter who is enjoying the challenge of a different layout.
“It’s refreshing because a number of the courses we play week in week out it just seems like you are taking the driver headcover off on every single par 4 or par 5, and the odd par 3. It’s nice to hit the odd iron off the tee. I enjoy that type of golf, putting it in play and giving yourself chances. I like the way this golf course sets up for me.”
Hall got off the a great start and looked the man to beat early on.
The new father started his JBWere Masters campaign off the 10th hole and carded five birdies and a bogey before turning at 7-under par.
The momentum continued with another birdie on the 1st getting him out to 8-under, however that was to be his last of the day, the Victorian bogeying the par five 5th before double bogeying the 8th.
In total Hall’s round featured an eagle, six birdies, a bogey and a double bogey.
“I’m pretty happy with it all in all. The finish was a little bit tough. I probably took a little bit of an unwarranted risk on the 8th but I’m still happy with the way I played,” he said.
To date, Hall’s major achievements on the course are two PGA Tour of Australasia wins at the Victorian Open and the Victorian PGA Championship, but the 28 year old says he is ready to take the next step and hold his own alongside the likes of Poulter and World No. 1 Luke Donald (-2).
“I would love the chance to play with them, absolutely,” said Hall.
“I think I have been around for long enough that I’m not really scared by those guys anymore. So, yes, I think I would be able to match it, that’s for sure. I have a bit more local knowledge too.”
Playing his first professional event in Australia, Donald is currently in a share of 11th position following a first round of 2-under 69.
Matt Stieger was the best amateur of the day also finishing at 2-under par.
With 10 minutes until his tee time, defending Champion Stuart Appleby declared himself fit enough to contest round one of the JBWere Masters much to the delight of organisers.
The Victorian battled for a 1-under par round to sit just outside the top 20.2011 JBWere Australian Masters Leaderboard