HONG KONG – Ian Poulter hailed his 10-under performance in the second round of the Hong Kong Open Friday as one of his finest ever as he moved into the lead at the halfway point of the European Tour event.Poulter recorded a round of 60 to move one shot clear of the field with a two-round total of 13 under but missed out on setting a new record around the Fanling course due to the implementation of the preferred lies ruling.
“I would rank it pretty high to be honest,” he said of a round that featured 10 birdies and no dropped shots.
“I hit 61 in Italy in 2002 or 2003 – 2002 I think – so it’s my lowest round of golf to date, so I would have to rate it up there. I had a lot of chances today and I could have holed a couple more but it’s a good round of golf.”
“Yeah, mixed emotions,” he said. “It’s one of those golf courses that if you get off to a decent start you feel as if you can shoot a low number. Five under on the front nine is a great score, I had five birdies in a row from the seventh and then as soon as that happened I felt there were plenty of chances.
“There are a lot of short irons to finish; at the par-5 13 it was close. I hit a great putt at 17, I really wouldn’t have had it back again but a foot from the hole it stayed with the grain and then I birdied the last for 60. So, happy but a bit disappointed.”
Poulter is one shot ahead of American Anthony Kang with Simon Dyson and Rory McIlroy in a tie for third, another shot back.
McIlroy looked set to go into the third round with at least a share of the lead as he led Poulter by a shot on the 18th.
But the 21-year-old Northern Irishman recorded a double-bogey at the last, putting his second shot in the lake in front of the green after miss-hitting his attempt out of the fairway bunker.
“It was a good match-up,” said Poulter of his tussle with his Ryder Cup teammate. “I knew he was going to play well today and I knew I was going to have to play well and hit a low score to stay in touch.
“I’m sure he’s a little disappointed to finish like that but Rory’s playing well and it’s going to be an exciting weekend.”
Poulter’s round was the lowest on another day of low scores played out in calm conditions, with second-placed Kang going around in 61 to pull himself into contention.
Overnight leader Mark Brown slipped back down the leader board as a result of his one-under par round which leaves him on 9 under for the tournament while defending champion Gregory Bourdy is in a share for 15th a shot further back.
Seventeen-year-old Italian Matteo Manassero is tied for fifth place on 10 under after a round of 63 left him level with four others, including U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell.
John Daly had a round of 66 to finish at 5 under for 36 holes to guarantee his participation for the rest of the weekend, finishing three shots clear of the halfway cut of 1under par.