Thursday 26 April 2018

Paul Dunne remains in contention at Houston Open as Ian Poulter storms into the lead

Paul Dunne battling to secure a place at the Masters. Photo: Getty
Paul Dunne battling to secure a place at the Masters. Photo: Getty

Ian Poulter gave his hopes of making the Masters a huge boost as a brilliant round of 65 earned him a share of the lead going into the final day of the Houston Open.

Needing to win the event to seal his spot at Augusta National, the Englishman carded seven birdies, including two in his final three holes, in a flawless round to put himself firmly in contention to do just that.

His 14-under-par total left him level with American Beau Hossler, who went round in 69, joining Poulter thanks to a birdie at the 18th.

The Englishman's Houston campaign had got off to a rocky start, having carded 75 on Thursday, however he more than found his form again after the fright.

He told the Golf Channel: "I had to pack my suitcase because potentially I was flying home on Friday and you never like to do that.

"I was frustrated, not really with my play on Thursday but the result - it wasn't good.

"So (with) a bit of patience, I opened my shoulders a bit on my putting stroke, started to visually see the right line and just started to role a few putts in.

"I continued that into today and it feels good, so hopefully I can go back out there tomorrow and do exactly the same. Who knows."

Overall, Ryder Cup star Poulter has responded superbly in Houston to the disappointment of narrowly missing out on an automatic place at the Masters, having found himself 51st in this week's world rankings, with the top 50 players receiving an invite to the year's first major.

Poulter had further reason to feel aggrieved after a mix-up saw him informed that he had done enough to qualify ahead of his quarter-final at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, only to be told 10 minutes before his defeat to Kevin Kisner that he required another victory.

A group of four players, including Ireland's Paul Dunne, were two shots off the lead.

Dunne carded a three-under 69 to sit alongside Greg Chalmers, Emiliano Grillo and Kevin Tway on 12 under overall, with a further six players on 11 under.

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