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Ogilvy catches, passes Poulter in Oz

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MELBOURNE, Australia – Geoff Ogilvy took a two-stroke lead Saturday in the Australian Masters, shooting an 8-under 63 on his boyhood course at Victoria Golf Club.

Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open champion, had a 13-under 200 total. He eagled the short par-4 opening hole – hitting a 3-iron to 5 feet – and had nine birdies and three bogeys.

England’s Ian Poulter, the leader after each of the first two rounds, was second after a 69. Australians Nathan Green (67) and Ashley Hall (68) were 9 under.

Greg Chalmers topped a group at 7 under after 67. He’s trying to become the second player to complete the Australian Triple Crown after sweeping the Australian Open and Australian PGA last month. Robert Allenbyaccomplished the feat in 2005.

Top-ranked Luke Donald was 5 under after a 69.

Ogilvy’s round tied the eight-year-old course record set by John Wade.

“I think I left a few shots out there weirdly enough, but I think I stole a couple as well, so it all balances out,” Ogilvy said.

The Australian followed up his eagle at the 233 meter first hole with a birdie at the second after a long-iron approach to within a few feet, then sank a 50-foot putt for birdie at the third.

After a bogey at the 398-meter par-four fifth, Ogilvy reeled off birdies at four of the next five holes to cement his lead and to complete his outward nine in 29.

He pitched in from 40 meters for birdie at the 400 meter par-four 12th to move to eight under for his round and to a four shot lead. But his run ended with a bogey at the 435-yard par-four 13th, the hardest hole on the course, before a birdie at the last.

“To start eagle, birdie, birdie you’re usually going to have a pretty good day after you do that which is a bonus,” Ogilvy said. “Playing a thousand rounds on this course I’ve probably only made three or four twos on the first, or maybe five, but not many, so to start a round like that was pretty good.

“After that every time I had a wedge in my hands on the fairway I hit it pretty close.”

Poulter said he struggled with the northeasterly wind on Saturday after southwesterlies on the first two days.

“Hats off to Geoff for going out and scoring 8-under-par in that wind today, it’s a great score,” Poulter said. “When someone posts a course record on you on Saturday then generally they move forward. Geoff’s done that and I’ll be chasing him down tomorrow.”