Poulter building up nicely for shoot-out with Scott - Golf - Sport - The Independent

Poulter building up nicely for shoot-out with Scott

Defending champion well in the hunt but Tiger looks bland in Melbourne

Ian Poulter went into today's final day of the Singapore Masters only one shot off the lead after a three-under-par 68 in the third round. He was joined in a tie for second on 13-under by South Korea's Kang Kyung-nam, who shot a 67, while Adam Scott of Australia stayed out in front with a 69.

US Open champion Graeme McDowell was in fourth place on 12-under after shooting a 68 and Colin Montgomerie is on five-under after a 70, while Phil Mickelson stumbled to a 75 to finish two-under.

Defending champion Poulter started in the same blistering form that saw him shoot a 63 in the second round, hitting a birdie on the second hole before eagling the fourth to quickly move to 13-under par. But his progress came to a halt as a birdie at the 10th was cancelled out with a dropped shot at the 14th.

The Englishman then did well to save par at the last hole after finding the bunker off the tee to end the day still in contention. "I played nicely," Poulter said. "I think I missed one green and that was about five feet out, so I actually hit about 18 greens in regulation. Adam also played well so I think tomorrow [Sunday] is going to be a great day."

Overnight leader Scott was two-under over the front nine but the 30-year-old was unable to build on that platform. His bogey on the 10th hole was offset by a birdie on the 16th, but he missed a short birdie chance on the last following an excellent wedge approach at the par-five that could have opened a two-shot cushion. "It wasn't easy out there," said the Australian. "It was hot and it was a long round and I wasn't feeling on top of a lot ofaspects of my game at times."

Meanwhile, Tiger Woods' bid to retain his Australian Masters title is all but over, with the world number two trailing leader Adam Bland by 10 shots going into today's final round. Woods struggled on the greens, only managing a 71, and needs a miraculous final round in Melbourne today to challenge. Sergio Garcia reversed the progress he made with his second-round 65, carding a 77 to lie 13 strokes off the pace. Australian Bland fired a 70 in the rain for an 11-under-par total and a three-shot lead over compatriot Daniel Gaunt.

Recently deposed world number one Woods, who has not won a tournament since his victory at Melbourne's Kingston Heath a year ago, started his round nine strokes behind Bland and he lost further ground with bogeys on holes two and six.

The 14-time major winner sank a 12-foot birdie putt on the seventh but dropped another shot on the next.

Woods was steadier thereafter at Victoria Golf Club, but could only pick up two more birdies, at nine and 18, and admitted he is likely to relinquish his crown today.

"I'm so far back that I have to play a great round, and then need help. Hopefully I can go out there and put a low one on the board." said the 34-year-old American. "I really haven't putted well this week. If I putted normally and made a couple more shots each day then I would be right in there."

Garcia fared a lot worse in the incessant downpour, his six-overeffort featuring five bogeys and a double-bogey on the par-three 16th.

However, the 31-year-old Bland, who has held at least a share of the lead since day one and was in front by one at the start of the third round, sank four birdies in the difficult conditions. His nearest rival Gaunt went round in 68, while another Aussie, Ryan Haller, had the best round of the day – a 66 – and is tied for fifth with countryman Stuart Appleby, seven behind Bland.

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