Poulter leaves it late to extend lead

11/20/2010 8:35:52 AM
Ian Poulter   (Getty Images)
Ian Poulter (Getty Images)

Ian Poulter finished in stunning style to double his advantage at the UBS Hong Kong Open, but the Englishman still has plenty of work to do to secure a tenth European Tour title on Sunday.

After embarking on a birdie blitz round the Fanling course on Friday in a career-best 60, Poulter found chances a little harder to come by as he recorded a six under par 64 to sit 19 under.

The Ryder Cup star picked up shots on the second and 13th, as well as an eagle three on the par five third.

But it was his birdie-birdie finish, with putts of 12 feet on the penultimate hole and 18 feet at the last that put the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play winner two clear of Graeme McDowell.

The tournament is shaping up for a thrilling finale with McDowell - bidding for a good finish to eat into Martin Kaymer's Race to Dubai lead -making his move.

The US Open Championship winner climbed the leaderboard with a strong run coming home as the Northern Irishman shot an impressive 63 to go second on 17 under.

Poulter's compatriot Simon Dyson produced a tidy round of 65 to sit third on 16 under, one ahead of Rory McIlroy and Anthony Kang.

The 34 year old Poulter was bogey free once again at the Hong Kong Golf Club.

"It is huge," said the Englishman of his strong finish. "I saw the other guys get off to a good start and that kind of frustrated me not to convert some of the chances I had.

"With Simon (Dyson) and Graeme (McDowell) pressing I wanted to make sure I went into tomorrow with a bit of a lead. That is key, really, making sure you go into Sunday with a nice advantage."

McDowell's climb up the leaderboard was kick-started by an eagle on the par four tenth.

The US Open Championship winner had reached the turn two under following three birdies and one bogey but sank a putt from 20 feet on the tenth after driving the green before picking up three successive birdies from the 13th to close in on Poulter.

"It really got me going," said McDowell. "I birdied 13, 14 and 15 so it was a good back nine but it was definitely the eagle on ten that got me off and running.

"I am very happy with that round. It was more of the same really because I have played great this week."

Dyson maintained his impressive form in Hong Kong to remain firmly in contention for Sunday after carding a five under 65 to move onto 16 under, three behind Poulter.

The former KLM Open winner started with aplomb as he reeled off three successive birdies from the first before two further gains on the front nine were cancelled out by two bogeys, meaning he reached the turn in three under.

Dyson then picked up birdies in three of his next five holes before a bogey on the par four 15th denied him a share of second place.

Rory McIlroy will need to be at his best to have a chance of claiming victory after a four under 66 left him tied fourth alongside Anthony Kang (67) on 15 under.

The Northern Irishman failed to take advantage of a back nine that has been particularly generous with birdie putts as the 21 year old managed to pick up shots on only the tenth and 18th.

Nevertheless, McIlroy felt those putts were pivotal in keeping him in touch with the leaders.

"I'm a couple behind, but feel as if I'm playing well and made some key up and downs on the back nine to keep myself in there," he said. "I think my patience paid off with a birdie at the last.

"I didn't quite have it as well as I had it on Thursday and Friday, but 66 is still a decent score. But I need to go out tomorrow and try and put a low one on the board and see what happens."

Defending champion Grégory Bourdy is six shots behind Poulter in a three-way tie for eighth after signing for a five under 65.