Saturday, 17 April 1999
Ian Poulter putted his way to a two-shot lead after three rounds of the Ivory Coast Open in Abidjan.

The 23 year old from Luton birdied the final two holes with monster putts of 35 and 20 feet for a 70 and now stands on the brink of winning his first European Challenge Tour title.

Poulter is on five-under-par 211, two ahead of French duo Marc Pendaries (71) and Sebastien Delagrange (72), and three clear of Simon Wakefield (72) from Stoke.

On another sweltering day in the West African state, Poulter's putter was red hot. He used it only 26 times and after taking just 50 putts in the opening two rounds is aiming to break 100 in today's (Sunday) final circuit.

"Putting is the strongest part of my game," he says. "I haven't been putting well coming into the tournament but I feel confident and the greens are good."

Dutchman Maarten Lafeber, currently No.1 in the rankings, is fifth on 215 after a 73 while there is a four-way tie on 217 between England's Chris Benians, Dominique Nouailhac of France, Austria's Markus Brier, and David Park of Wales.

Only one player, Englishman Andrew Butterfield broke 70 with a 69 while the toughness of the course allied to the heat is underlined by the fact that only five players are under par.

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