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Poulter Hanging On In Wales Open

NEWPORT, Wales -- Ian Poulter stretched his lead to six shots at one point, but stumbled on the back nine before a birdie at the last gave him a round of 4-under 68 Saturday. Poulter now stands at 16-under-par 200 through three rounds of The Celtic Manor Resort Wales Open and still holds a two-shot lead over Phillip Price.
Fredrik Jacobsen fired the second-best round of the day as he notched an 8-under 64 to take third place by himself at 13-under-par 203. He is one shot ahead of Andrew Coltart (67) and Jarrod Moseley, who fired a course- record 9-under 63.
Poulter was on fire until midway through the back nine. He opened with a birdie at the first and followed that with an eagle at the next. The Englishman then ran off six consecutive pars.
At the par-3 ninth, Poulter dropped a 6-iron within seven feet of the cup to setup birdie, which gave him a three-shot lead. After a two-putt par at the 10th, Poulter stretched his lead.
He left his third shot to the par-5 11th short, but chipped in for birdie. At the next, he rolled in a birdie putt from 15 feet out to go to minus-18 and take a six-stroke advantage. Poulter maintained a six-stroke lead with a birdie at the 13th, but trouble loomed at the Wentwood Hills Course.
At the par-3 14th, Poulter's tee ball sailed over the green. His chip shot came up short and led to a bogey dropping him to 18-under and a four-shot lead.
Poulter then missed his first fairway of the day at the par-4 15th. He was forced to layup with his second and was unable to save par. He headed to the 16th at minus-17 and up four shots.
On 16, Poulter's drive found a fairway bunker. He knocked his second over the green into heavy rough. His third came up short of the putting surface, as did his fourth. After knocking his fifth onto the green, Poulter saved double- bogey, but his lead fell to one as Price birdie the same hole.
After parring the par-3 17th, Poulter made a strong birdie at the last. His second to the par-5 was well short and right of the green. His pitch shot stopped within six feet of the cup. He rolled in the birdie at the last and moved his lead back to two strokes as Price parred the same hole.
'I thought it was a good day, to be fair,' said Poulter. 'Obviously dropping a few shots at the end has given some hope to a few others but the way I am actually playing and striking the ball is good. Today was the best I've hit it all week so I feel happy. If I play golf tomorrow like I have over the past three days someone is going to have to shoot something extra special to beat me.'
Price had a steady round of 4-under 68 to remain two behind Poulter. The Welshman posted back-to-back birdies from the second to get to minus-12. He then rolled off nine straight pars.
At the par-4 13th, Price converted a birdie try to remain six behind Poulter. As the leader struggled, Price birdied No. 16 to move within one shot of the lead. However, he only managed pars on the final two holes to end two shots behind the leader.
'I am pretty pleased with 4-under,' said Price. 'It was not very exciting out there, pretty much the same as the rest of the week. Rather than making a lot of birdies I am not making many mistakes. I would have liked to have made a lot more birdies today and make it more exciting but it didn't happen. If I was to win tomorrow it would be fantastic.'
Moseley's stellar round broke the course-record by two strokes. He opened with birdies at two and five. He then ran off three straight birdies from the ninth to get into contention. Moseley climbed the leaderboard as he closed with four successive birdies for a round of 9-under 63.
Darren Fichardt, Jonathan Lomas and Mark McNulty share sixth place at 11- under-par 205. Barry Lane is one shot behind that trio at minus-10.

Related Links
  • Full-field scores from the Celtic Manor Resort Wales Open
  • Full coverage of the Celtic Manor Resort Wales Open