England's Ian Poulter took a one-shot lead over Ernie Els before play was suspended Thursday due to lightning on the first day of the $5 million Singapore Open.

Poulter made six birdies for a 5-under 66 at the par-71, Sentosa Golf Club, one stroke ahead of South Africa's Els and Chan Yih-shin of Taiwan.

"It was nice," Poulter said after his round. "There were no mistakes on the back nine and on my front nine, after I bogeyed the first, I started to hit some good shots."

World No. 2 Phil Mickelson, who mixed an eagle and three birdies with three bogeys for a 69, was in a group of seven players at 2 under.

"I putted well today, and as the week goes on I think I will get better and better as I get accustomed to the speed of the greens," Mickelson said.

Poulter is looking to move up the rankings of the European Tour's Race to Dubai, where he's currently in 29th place. The Singapore Open is co-sanctioned by the European and Asian tours.

More than half of the field had not completed the first round when play was suspended for more than two hours in the afternoon due to thunderstorms. Ireland's Ryder Cup star Padraig Harrington and Australian Geoff Ogilvy were among the players expected to take to the course late Thursday.

Organizers say the first round will be completed Friday morning.