A rampaging Geoff Ogilvy set his home course alight by shooting a record-equaling 63 yesterday to take a two-stroke lead over Britain’s Ian Poulter heading into the final round of the Australian Masters.
Former US Open champion Ogilvy, a long-time member of the tournament’s Victoria Golf Club venue, put on a clinic of iron play and putting on a windy afternoon as he charged past overnight leader Poulter to move to 13-under 200.
“Obviously, I’m very comfortable out here on this golf course. I’ve probably played here more than I’ve played any other course in the world,” Ogilvy told reporters. “It’s fun to come back to Melbourne always ... especially to play here.”
Britain’s hopes of a win Down Under lie firmly on Poulter’s shoulders, with world No. 1 Luke Donald eight strokes behind after a third successive day of toil on the greens.
Donald, the joint USPGA and European Tour money list winner, carded a two-under 69 and birdied his last hole to give himself the faintest hope of an unlikely victory today.
However, the day belonged firmly to the moustachioed Ogilvy as he tore through the front nine in 29 and tapped in his ninth birdie on the par-five 18th to equal the sandbelt course’s record.
Bursting out of the blocks with an eagle and two birdies in his first three holes, Ogilvy threatened to obliterate the mark after reaching eight-under with a 30m chip-in for birdie at the par-four 12th, but marred his round with bogeys at 13 and 16.
“All in all, I left a couple out there, but I stole a couple, especially on 12, so I’m pretty happy with that,” the 34-year-old said.
The Australian stands on the brink of a drought-breaking victory after a frustrating, winless year on the US Tour that was marred by a succession of injuries.
Poulter, who battled food poisoning on Friday, is outright second after carding a two-under 69, with Australians Nathan Green and Ashley Hall in joint third place, two strokes further adrift.
While Poulter managed to shrug off the nausea during his fighting third round, the Briton was unable to master the gusty winds that buffeted Victoria in the afternoon.
“It was awkward. Got off to a great start, two birdies on the first two holes and then the next four holes had four completely different wind directions,” said Poulter, dressed in uncharacteristically sober matching whites.
“Hats off to Geoff for going in actually eight-under par in that wind today, that’s a great score. When someone posts a course record on Saturday they generally move forward,” he said.
“Geoff’s done that and I’ll be chasing him down tomorrow,” he added.