Friday, 16 December 2011
Ian Poulter   (Getty Images)
Ian Poulter (Getty Images)
A three under par 68 was enough for Ian Poulter to maintain his lead at the midway point of the JBWere Australian Masters.

Poulter's steady round included birdies at all three par fives, and just the one bogey, as he moved on to nine under to hold a two stroke advantage heading into the weekend.

Australian Matthew Giles is alone in second place at seven under, while countryman Ashley Hall is outright third at minus six after a 70.

But there are a host of big names within touch, including World Number One Luke Donald, local hopeful Geoff Ogilvy and two time Masters Tournament champion Peter Lonard.

Donald endured an up and down day that could have been considerably better, but ended up signing for a 70 to be among a host of players tied for 14th at three under.

The Englishman got to four under early in his round when he made back to back birdies at two of the most difficult holes on the course - the par four sixth and short par three seventh - but he found trouble at the eighth and gave back both shots immediately.

Despite his inconsistent round, Donald still thinks he remains a threat.

"I hit a lot of good shots today but I've been struggling on the greens," he said.

"I'm finding it hard to see the line and missing my fair share of chances for birdie.

"Hopefully I'm saving them all for the weekend. I'm still in a decent position, I just need to get that putter going and get on a roll."

Ogilvy sprung to life at the par five ninth with a chip in for eagle from the back of the green.

Four more birdies - along with one dropped shot - followed on the back nine for the Victorian as he finished the day tied with Brendan Jones, Nathan Green, Brent McCullough, Kieran Pratt and Lonard at five under.

It looked like Lonard was going to finish higher up the leaderboard when he birdied his eighth and ninth holes, the 17th and 18th, to move into a share of the lead at seven under, but the 44 year old dropped three shots in a row on his back nine to finish with a 70.

Italian drawcard Matteo Manassero fared much better on the second day, with the 18 year old posting a round of 67 to follow his 76 on Thursday, while playing partner Robert Allenby carded 17 pars and one birdie to finish with a 70.

The duo finished the day in joint 47th position at one over, one shot ahead of the cut that was made at plus two.

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