Poulter set to match Garcia

Ian Poulter enhanced his chances of following in the footsteps of his role model Colin Montgomerie when he built up a three-shot lead to take into today's final round of the Italian Open.

Ian Poulter enhanced his chances of following in the footsteps of his role model Colin Montgomerie when he built up a three-shot lead to take into today's final round of the Italian Open.

The Englishman's third-round seven-under-par 65, studded with five birdies in six holes on the back nine, took him to 18 under and in prime position to post his first European Tour victory, in his debut season. His round of 65 yesterday followed his first- and second-round scores of 66 and 67, for a 54-hole total of 198.

A strong homeward nine and a crucial save on the last hole from 25 feet took Poulter three shots ahead of the chasing pack of four, comprising the Argentinian Ricardo Gonzalez, Spain's Francisco Cea, South African Roger Wessels and another Englishman, Van Phillips.

The 24-year-old Poulter is also keen to emulate Mont-gomerie's 1988 feat and become Europe's Rookie of the Year. If we wins today he will equal the achievement of the Spaniard Sergio Garcia, who won a Tour event in his first year as a professional.

The £90,000 first prize would push Poulter £60,000 ahead of Scotland's Alastair Forsyth, his only challenger for the rookie award, before a potential showdown in the Volvo Masters next week.

"It will be a great honourto follow the likes of Colin and Sergio, even if [Garcia] is much younger than me," Poulter said. "But I'm trying not think about it. I'm trying to think about earning enough to make Europe's top 20. That will open even bigger doors, like getting into the World Championship tournament in two weeks."

Poulter began the third round a stroke behind the joint leaders, Elliot Boult of New Zealand and Australia's Richard Green.

An opening barrage from Boult took him three ahead of the field before a bogey on the par-three 10th began a slump. He found the lake in front of the green and had to take a penalty drop, which allowed the pack to close, with Poulter quickest to take advantage of the situation.

After an outward half of 33, which included two birdies, he picked up another two shots, on the 12th and 13th, the latter birdie being the result of a fine recovery from the fairway bunker, his well-struck iron setting up a chip-in from the edge of the green.

That took Poulter to 15 under, alongside Boult atthe top of a hotly-contested leaderboard. Behind them,by a single shot, was Oldcorn, with Green, Wessels and Phillips.

Green, who had dropped a couple of shots, recovered well with four birdies in five holes from the turn to share sixth place with Boult on 202. Both shot 70s yesterday.

Boult needs at least second place to retain his Tour card and Cea - who broke the course record by two shots with a 63 in the second round on Friday - at least fifth.

A lacklustre display by the European No 1, Lee Westwood, left him nine strokes off the pace on 207 after a second successive 70.

"I played poorly and putted worse, same as yesterday and the day before," said the Englishman, for whom a record seventh win of the year is now only a remote possibility. "The greens are a mystery to me. But I never play well straight after a two-week break and I was always treating this as a warm-up for the final two big tournaments."

Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas