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Friday, 16 November 2012
 Ian Poulter   (Getty Images)
Ian Poulter (Getty Images)

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Ian Poulter remained close enough to Matthew Guyatt to challenge over the weekend as the Queenslander maintained his lead at the midway point of the Australian Masters.

Guyatt added a three under par 69 to his superb 65 on the opening day and now finds himself at ten under overall for the tournament, two shots clear of New Zealand's Michael Hendry, with Adam Scott a further stroke adrift in third.

Englishman Poulter is another two shots back at five under and shares fourth place with Tasmanian Craig Hancock, but the news was not so good for fellow European Graeme McDowell.

The Northern Irishman could not take advantage of a superb eagle-birdie start to the day and eventually signed for a 77 to be four over for the tournament.

That was one shot inside the mark for the halfway cut, with Australian veterans Andre Stolz and Terry Price among those who won't feature at Kingston Heath over the weekend.

Guyatt was somewhat fortunate to get out onto the course nice and early, before the powerful southerly breeze reached its strongest gusts.

The 37 year old picked up four birdies during his opening nine holes to open up a five shot advantage over the field, but had a couple of problems on his inward nine, keeping his challengers in touch.

Guyatt's two birdies on the way home were offset by a double bogey seven at the par five 12th and a bogey six at the 14th as the first round leader had to settle for a round of three under.

Hendry matched that score in the morning, while Scott's two under 70 in the afternoon was possibly just as impressive and kept him in with a strong chance of claiming his first gold jacket.

Poulter was one player who failed to make use of his morning draw, as the World Number 16 had to settle for a level par 72 as he attempts to become the second person after Greg Norman to defend the title.

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