McDowell leads Poulter by three at WGC-HSBC


Graeme McDowell fired his second-consecutive 67 Friday to take a three-stroke lead over Ryder Cup teammate Ian Poulter at the WGC-HSBC Champions. Here's how things stand after 36 holes in Shanghai, China:

Leaderboard: Graeme McDowell (-10), Ian Poulter (-7), Bubba Watson (-6), Hiroshi Iwata (-6), Four players tied at 5 under

What it means: The Ryder Cup storyline continues to play out, though this time on the course. McDowell, Poulter and U.S. team member Bubba Watson will play in the final threesome Saturday at Sheshan International Golf Club. While McDowell and Watson are both major champions, Poulter is the only one in the group who has won a WGC event. The Englishman claimed the 2010 Match Play and this event in 2012 (at Mission Hills Golf Club).

Round of the day: Iwata, who is in the field based on his standing on the Japan Golf Tour Order of Merit, had the best round of the day by two strokes. His 7-under 65 was complete with seven birdies and no bogeys. He was eight strokes better than in his opening 73.

Best of the rest: McDowell, Poulter and Watson all shot 67s. G-Mac didn't make a bogey; neither did Poulter, who finished with birdies on four of his final five holes. Watson birdied each of his final five holes to vault into contention.

G-Mac sinks 20-footer for birdie at the par-5 14th Friday.

Biggest disappointment: Adam Scott. It was an even-par 72, but it was far from ho-hum. The Aussie birdied four of his first seven holes Friday to get within one of the lead, before a quadruple bogey-double bogey finish to his front nine. His back nine included a bogey, a birdie and an eagle. Scott's countryman, Brody Ninyette, who is in this week's field courtesy a top-4 finish on the 2013 Australasian Tour Order of Merit, shot 90. He was disqualified after signing an incorrect scorecard.

Main storyline heading into the weekend: Can we get a big-name winner? The fall tournaments have lacked star power, but this final trio is promising with Iwata hoping to play spoiler. Waiting in the wings are Rickie Fowler, Jonas Blixt, Kevin Na and Tim Clark - all at 5 under.