Britain’s bogey-free Poulter surges to PGA Heritage lead

Ian Poulter of England plays a shot from a greenside bunker on the 17th hole during the third round of the 2018 RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links on April 14, 2018 in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
AFP

Washington (United States) (AFP) – Britain’s Ian Poulter, seeking his second title in three weeks, fired a four-under-par 64 to seize a one-stroke lead after Saturday’s third round of the US PGA Heritage Classic.

The 42-year-old Englishman, who won the Houston Open two weeks ago to earn a berth in last week’s Masters, fired his second consecutive bogey-free round to stand on 13-under par 200 after 54 holes at Harbor Town in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

“Clean card. That’s what’s keeping me up there,” Poulter said. “I’m driving it well. I feel comfortable with my irons.”

South Korea’s Kim Si-woo and American Luke List shared second on 201 and will play alongside Poulter in Sunday’s final round, when threesomes will be used with early tee times in a bid to finish before expected storms arrive.

Taiwan’s C.T. Pan and American Billy Horschel were another stroke back on 202.

Poulter, playing for the sixth week in a row as a result of his last-chance qualifying for the Masters, has gone 45 holes without a bogey since his ninth hole in Thursday’s opening round.

“Still standing,” Poulter said. “It’s unusual I play six weeks in a row. I can muster up another day’s hard graft and see if we can pull it out of the bag again.”

Poulter, who shared 44th last week at Augusta National in the year’s first major tournament, blasted out of a bunker to three feet and birdied the par-5 fifth, then sank a 15-foot birdie putt at the par-4 sixth.

While Poulter birdied the 12th and 13th as well, he said he key back-nine holes were par saves at the par-3 14th and 17th. At 14 he missed the green but dropped his second shot three feet from the cup and at 17 he blasted from a bunker and sank a testy 6-footer for par.

“The par-3 pars on the back nine were key,” Poulter said. “Those two saves were the key to my round.”

The only Englishman to win the Heritage was Nick Faldo, who in 1984 made it his first US triumph. Poulter’s first US victory was at Houston.

Kim, last year’s Players Championship winner who took his first US PGA title at Greensboro in 2016, fired a 68 with five birdies, including all three par-5 holes.

List, who blasted 41 feet out of a rear greenside bunker to birdie the ninth, fired a 67 to seize second. He seeks his first PGA title after losing a Honda Classic playoff to Justin Thomas in February.

“It didn’t feel like I lost it. It felt like he beat me,” List said. “That’s definitely one of those sitiuations I’ll draw on tomorrow.”

Pan, who also seeks his first US PGA crown, capped a run of four birdies in five holes by sinking a 27-foot birdie putt at the par-3 17th but found a bunker on his approach and took bogey at 18, still worth a spot in Sunday’s penultimate trio.

“This is not my first time being in this position. I feel comfortable having experienced it before,” Pan said. “I want to play well tomorrow and hopefully win the title for sure.”

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