Ian Poulter fired a bogey-free 4-under 67 and will take a one-shot lead into Sunday’s final round of the RBC Heritage.
Starting the day just one off the lead, Poulter mixed seven pars with a back-to-back birdies on Nos. 5 and 6 to turn in 34. Going home, the Englishman opened par-par-birdie-birdie, and then cruised in to level-par to set the low 54-hole mark of 13-under par.
It was the second-consecutive bogey-free round for the 42 year old Poulter, who is riding a streak of 45-straight holes without a blemish.
“I mean not that I’m counting the bogey-free holes, it’s just nice to play good golf, continued form from Houston,” said Poulter, who is teeing it up for the sixth-straight week.
“Kind of mustered up a bit more energy to go again tomorrow. And see if we can have a last bit of plaid to put in the closet.
“It’s been a long six weeks. I don’t normally play six in a row. But the way the schedule panned out, I pushed to get into Augusta, doing that just it was meant to be.
“So this is a good golf course. It’s a good test. And so far I’m doing a pretty good job.”
Si Woo Kim made birdies on Harbour Town’s three par 5s en route to a 3-under 68 and a share of second-place at 12-under par, alongside Luke List, who birdied 13, 14 and 15 to reach 67.
One further back was C.T. Pan and Billy Horschel, who both bogeyed the par-4 18th to drop to 11-under par, good for T4.
Horschel has struggled badly his season, having missed five cuts in his last six starts with a T54 his only finish in the money. Understandably, the 2014 FedExCup winner was excited about his performance through three rounds.
“Nice to be back in the thick of it. This year has sort of been weird. Results haven’t been great. But the practice at home has been going really well,” said Horschel, the winner of last year’s Byron Nelson.
“It’s frustrating when you don’t see the results. It’s a little bit more a mental thing with me right now. So I needed to get back in the way I was thinking my entire career, especially ’13 and ’14.
“Are we there completely? No, but we’re making good strides.”
South Carolina native Kevin Kisner birdied 16 and 18 to reach 10-under par and a share of sixth with Chesson Hadley, who shot 69.
“I think I had a good run yesterday afternoon where we got pretty familiar with these conditions,” said Kisner.
“It’s almost identical conditions to yesterday afternoon. Got off to a good start and then stalled out in the middle and then got hot there late.”
First-round leader Rory Sabbatini was 9 under, after a second-straight 70. The South African is one clear of Ryan Moore (67), Danny Lee (70) and Matt Kuchar (69), who sit T9 at 8 under.
Native son Dustin Johnson was 4 over through 11 holes, but closed bogey-free with three birdies to post a more respectable 1-over 72.
“Short a little bit on the greens today. Gave myself a lot of opportunities, just didn’t make any putts. It wasn’t like I was having long putts, I missed a lot of short ones,” said Johnson.
“Around here you’ve got to hole some putts if you want to compete.”
The world No. 1 is 10 shots off the lead at 3-under par, one better than fellow South Carolinian, and defending champion, Wesley Bryan, who shot a second-consecutive even-par 71 to stay at 2-under par.
TOP 10 LEADERS
1 Ian Poulter -13
2 Luke List -12
2 Si Woo Kim -12
4 C.T. Pan -11
4 Billy Horschel -11
6 Kevin Kisner -10
6 Chesson Hadley -10
8 Rory Sabbatini -9
9 Ryan Moore -8
9 Matt Kuchar -8
9 Danny Lee -8
VIDEO: SHOT OF THE DAY
Danny Lee with a hole-out birdie from the pot bunker on 18.
“I think my stats have been pretty good for a while. Obviously holing putts at the right time is key to hold rounds together. I needed just something to change on the greens. Obviously going back to something that I couldn’t blame, with a putter that you know has done some great things in the past, there’s no excuses.”
– Ian Poulter
Credit: Getty Images