World No 25 Ian Poulter confessed yesterday he cannot burn the candle at both ends as he continues to recover from a bout of pneumonia.
The 36-year-old Englishman is still a few kilograms short of his best fighting weight but will come out swinging today in his first appearance at the US$3 million Volvo China Open.
Poulter lost 5.2kg (10 pounds) in five days after contracting the bug last month and 'never felt so rough', but a third-place finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and a career-best seventh at the Masters two weeks ago showed he could still compete at the highest level, even if weakened.
A medical check last week showed he was making further improvement and that he was ready to tackle the national open at the Binhai Lake Golf Club.
'The pneumonia hit me hard and left me pretty weak. I'm a lot more susceptible to bugs and things since I had my tonsils out,' said Poulter.
'I just have to rest and recover. I can't burn the candle at both ends. I can't do as much gym work as I would like. I can't practise as I would like but the rest and the good form from last year has carried me through the past few weeks and there has been no real loss of form. I am just a lot more tired than I would have been if I hadn't picked up the bug.'
The bout forced him to withdraw from the Honda Classic in Miami early last month.
'Withdrawing from tournaments is something I don't do,' he said. 'It was five days of pure misery to start with. I had a resting heart rate of 98 and lost 10 pounds in five days.
'I had a medical last week to compare what shape I am in now compared to January and there have been significant body changes. It will take time to get back. I have lost an inch and a half around the shoulders and other areas were affected such as biceps and thighs.
'Ten pounds is a lot to lose and I just have to be careful not to overdo it and have a relapse,' said Poulter, who has brought a bag full of pills to help counter any other travel bugs.
The popular Poulter has more than 1.2 million followers on Twitter and he was expanding that fan base on Weibo last night. 'I like to interact with the fans,' he said.
Poulter is the star drawcard at this week's OneAsia-European Tour co-sanctioned event, along with underrated Swede Peter Hanson, who made the world sit up and take notice when he led the Masters going into the final round before fading to finish in a four-way tie for third.
The 156-strong field also includes Italian brothers Francesco and Edoardo Molinari, Scotland's Paul Lawrie, American Todd Hamilton, England's Paul Casey (2005 champion) and defending champion Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium.
China number one Liang Wenchong leads the home challenge and is joined by 29 other professionals and amateurs, including 13-year-old Guan Tianlang, the youngest player ever to qualify for a European Tour event.