Poulter holds halfway advantage but Donald still dangerous at Australian Masters
A three-under par round of 68 was enough for Ian Poulter to maintain his lead at the midway point of the JBWere Australian Masters in Melbourne, but a couple of big names are still in touch.
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 two-stroke advantage heading into the weekend.
Australian Matthew Giles (68) is alone in second place at seven-under, while countryman Ashley Hall is outright third at minus six after a 70.
In control: Ian Poulter takes a two-shot lead into the third round in Melbourne
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But there are a host of big names within touch, including world No 1 Luke Donald and local hopeful Geoff Ogilvy.
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.”
Hanging in: Luke Donald is six behind Poulter after struggling with his putter
Ogilvy looked flat early in his round before springing 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 shot 66 and finished the day tied with Brendan Jones, Nathan Green, Brent McCullough, Kieran Pratt and Peter 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.
Route 66: Geoff Ogilvy shot a six-under second round to stay in contention
Italian Matteo Manassero fared much better on the second day, with the 18-year-old posting a round of 67 to follow his disastrous 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.
Notable players that missed the cut included veteran Australians Peter O”Malley and Paul Gow, plus New Zealander Michael Campbell and American Jeff Maggert.