Poulter battles for two-shot Aussie Masters lead

Ian Poulter

Ian Poulter

MELBOURNE, Australia – England’s Ian Poulter overcame a bout of food poisoning to birdie the final two holes for a 3-under 68 and a two-stroke lead after the second round of the Australian Masters on Friday.

Poulter, who woke up feeling ill Friday after taking a one-shot lead in the first round, had a 9-under 133 total at Victoria Golf Club.

Matthew Giles was in second after a 68, while fellow Australian Ashley Hall was another shot back in third after a 70.

Top-ranked Luke Donald of England was at 3 under after a 70, while defending champion Stuart Appleby was forced to withdraw due to a lingering back injury.

Greg Chalmers, also 3 under after a 70, is trying to become the second player to complete the Australian Triple Crown after sweeping the Australian Open and Australian PGA last month. Robert Allenby accomplished the feat in 2005.

Poulter took the lead with birdies on the two closing par-5 holes.

He said the weather over the weekend would be the key for players at the head of the field.

“Wind is the protection for this golf course. If it blows a strong 30 (mph) and they put the pins in tricky positions, the scoring’s not really going to go anywhere.”

Poulter said he was ill before he drove to the course for the start of the second round.

“I woke up this morning and wasn’t good at all,” he said. “Must have had something bad to eat unfortunately, so I felt a bit weak out there today.

“And it showed. I hit it terrible, got myself out of position a number of times, but my short game was on and I holed a few nice putts so to look back at the round I would have taken that score.”

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