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Poulter Rises to Top of Australian Masters


Ian Poulter isn't going to go quietly in defense of his Australian Masters title. The 36-year-old Englishman fired an 8-under 64 to take a one-stroke lead over Adam Scott in the PGA Tour of Australasia event at Kingston Heath Golf Club in Melbourne.

After posting five birdies on the front nine, Poulter added four more on the back. His only dropped shot came on the par-4 16th. His final birdie was almost an eagle after his approach on the par-4 nearly found the cup; his tap-in birdie was his ninth of the day.

"I just hit it, let it ride up the crest and feed down," Poulter said of his 9-iron second shot on the closer. "It turned out to be a decent shot . . . When you go out with a reasonable breeze and you produce a score like that, you have to be happy."

It looks like it'll be a two-man race Sunday. Poulter stands at 13-under 203, while Scott is at 204 following his 67. Alone in third is the leader after the first two rounds, Australian Matthew Guyatt, who after shooting 65 and 69 skyrocketed to a 75 to reach 209, six behind Poulter.

"We have a few shots on the field but we can't go at it as if it's match play," Poulter said. "It might be a little different if we are still in front coming down the stretch, but anyone back in the field is capable of shooting a low number on this golf course."

Added Scott: "I'm not going to start worrying about Ian. You only worry about that coming down the stretch. There's a low score (for anyone) out there if you play well."

Besides, Scott knows Poulter is a bulldog when he has the lead. "We're all going up against one of the toughest competitors in the game and he's leading."

Alone in fourth at 210 is Mark Brown after a 67, while another stroke back are fellow Aussies Craig Hancock (72), Christopher Campbell (69) and Gareth Paddison (69).

Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell moved up into a share of 13th at 215 following a 67. The 2010 U.S. Open champion was pleased with his round, especially after shooting a 77 Friday. "They've put their trust in me to come down here this week," said McDowell.

"I was panicking a little bit down the stretch (Friday). I felt so out of sorts within myself. I knew I had to try to make the weekend. I was early to bed last night because pride kicks in. I wanted to go out there this morning and do my job."

For all the scores, visit http://www.pga.org.au/scores/1115.