x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

McDowell times his assault on Race to Dubai in Hong Kong

Graeme McDowell boosts his Race to Dubai chances as he sits two strokes behind Ian Poulter going into the final round of the Hong Kong Open.

HONG KNONG // Graeme McDowell has boosted his Race to Dubai chances as he sits two strokes behind Ian Poulter going into the final round of the Hong Kong Open.

The Northern Irishman is currently second in the Race rankings, behind Martin Kaymer, but a high finish today could see him close the gap on the German.

Poulter shot a six-under par 64 yesterday, following up his second-round 60 by sinking long birdie putts on the final two holes of the third round to stay ahead of McDowell, who hit a 63.

Poulter has a 19-under total of 191, with fellow Englishman Simon Dyson three shots back in third place.

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and American Anthony Kang were another shot back in a tie for fourth.

"With Graeme pressing and Simon pressing, you know, I wanted to make sure that I went into tomorrow with a little lead, so it was huge," Poulter said of his strong finish.

Poulter started with a birdie on the second and then eagled the 551-yard par-five third in his third straight round without a bogey.

However, it was McDowell who had arguably the shot of the day, when he drove the green at the 10th, which was shortened for the third round to 287 yards, before draining a long putt. That began an impressive back nine that brought consecutive birdies at the 13th, 14th and 15th.

McIlroy was runner-up here the past two years and looks set for another high finish - although Poulter was hoping for a two-man race with McDowell for the title.

"It's going to be good fun," Poulter said. "We had lunch earlier in the week and we were having a little bit of banter in the pub, and I told Graeme I was going to win this week. And then Rory walked in and they had a bit of banter between those two, because Graeme had just gone a place in front of Rory in the world rankings.

"As long as Graeme's clear of the other guys and I'm clear of everyone else, then you can get into kind of a match-play situation."