March 31, 2018 / 11:03 PM / 7 months ago

Poulter shares Houston lead as he bids for Masters invite

(Reuters) - Ian Poulter remains in the hunt for a U.S. Masters invitation after the Englishman shot a seven-under-par 65 to share a two-stroke lead with American Beau Hossler after the third round of the Houston Open on Saturday.

File photo: Golf - The 146th Open Championship - Royal Birkdale - Southport, Britain - July 23, 2017 England’s Ian Poulter stands on the fifth tee during the final round REUTERS/Paul Childs

Poulter, who needs to win the Houston tournament to qualify for next week’s Masters, sat alone at the top of the leaderboard at 14-under 202 before second-round leader Hossler sank an eight-foot birdie putt at the last hole for a 69.

“Hopefully ....I can keep rolling a few putts in,” Poulter told PGA Tour Radio after hitting 16 of 18 greens and making seven birdie putts.

“If I do that, hopefully we can have a nice day tomorrow,” added the Englishman, whose world ranking of 51st last week was just outside the top 50 cutoff for an automatic Masters spot.

Australian Greg Chalmers (65), Argentine Emiliano Grillo (67), American Kevin Tway (69) and Ireland’s Paul Dunne (69) were deadlocked at 204 in the final tournament before the Masters, which begins on Thursday.

Six other players were another stroke back at 205 including Sweden’s Henrik Stenson (69) with American Jordan Spieth (71) in a group on 10-under 206.

Rickie Fowler went from being the early leader to five strokes off the pace after a round that included a bogey, a double bogey and a triple bogey to go with five birdies.

He had birdied three of his first four holes for a two-shot lead before the double bogey at six.

The bogey came at the 11th before a birdie at the next.

Then came the nightmare 13th where Fowler, after being six feet from the hole, three-putted.

“I really just had the two holes that obviously cost me a few shots there and kept me from being in a real good spot for tomorrow,” Fowler told Golf Channel. “We’ll put those two behind us and go get a low one tomorrow. Still really pleased with where the game’s at.”

Poulter, who shot 64 on Thursday after an opening 73, picked up four birdies to make the turn at four-under and added three more on the back nine with two of them at 16 and 17.

“It was windy yesterday, and it was obvious windy again today,” he said. “The course is drying out nicely and yet the putter was continuing to fall.”

Hossler, who began the day with a one-stroke lead, rebounded from his only bogey, at the 11th, to birdie the next two holes before closing with another birdie, his fourth of the round.

Chalmers had eight birdies - five in the first eight holes - before a bogey at the 17th.

Reporting by Gene Cherry in Salvo, North Carolina, editing by Ed Osmond/Peter Rutherford

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