Poulter shoots 60 in Hong Kong

Ian Poulter of England tees off on the ninth hole at the Hong Kong golf club during the second day...

Ian Poulter of England tees off on the ninth hole at the Hong Kong golf club during the second day of the Hong Kong Open golf tournament November 19, 2010. (REUTERS/Tyrone Siu)

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, Last Updated: 9:48 AM ET

FANLING, Hong Kong -- England's Ian Poulter collected five birdies on both nines Friday as he fired a 10-under 60 to grab a one-stroke lead after 36 holes of the Hong Kong Open.

Poulter completed two rounds at 13-under-par 127. He set both the course record, which was 61, and the 36-hole tournament record. Robert Karlsson owned the old 36-hole mark of 128, which he set in 2008.

After seven birdies in an eight-hole span, Poulter needed two birdies over the last four holes to become the first player in European Tour history to shoot 59.

Poulter had three birdie chances from inside 25 feet in those four holes, but was only able to convert at the last.

"Even though it is a par-70, it's not an easy golf course," Poulter said of Hong Kong Golf Club. "You have to play exceptionally well to shoot 60 on any golf course. I'm happy I've done that today."

It was the 15th round of 60 on the European Tour.

Earlier in the day, Anthony Kang matched the old course record with his nine- under 61. Kang was on top of the leaderboard at 12-under-par 128 until Poulter grabbed the 36-hole lead for the eighth time in his European Tour career.

Rory McIlroy, the runner-up at this event the last two years, was in the lead at minus-13 until he found water with his second shot at the 18th. That led to a double-bogey which dropped him to minus-11 after a round of 66. McIlroy shares third place with Simon Dyson (65).

First-round leader Mark Brown managed a one-under 69, but fell into a tie for 10th at nine-under-par 131. Defending champion Gregory Bourdy posted his second straight 66 and shares 15th place at minus-eight.

While the players were lighting it up on the course, those in the afternoon wave had more than the course to deal with. There was a small earthquake that registered 2.8 on the Richter scale while Poulter and McIlroy were on 14.

"I felt that yeah. It was bizarre," Poulter said.

Poulter, who played alongside McIlroy, got his round going with back-to-back birdies from the third. He parred his next two holes before catching fire.

The Englishman rolled in a long birdie effort on the seventh and came right back with a 12-foot birdie putt on No. 8. Poulter birdied the ninth for the second straight day, this time from off the green, to turn at minus-eight.

"Five-under on the front nine was good today," Poulter stated. "Rory holing his second shot for eagle (on No. 9) actually spurred me on. I holed a good 25- or 30-foot birdie putt."

Poulter's run of birdies continued at the 10th where he kicked in a short putt. He made it five in a row with a three-foot birdie effort on the 11th.

Still trailing by two, Poulter continued his hot play. He got up and down for birdie from a greenside bunker on 13 and grabbed a piece of the lead with a 12-foot birdie putt at 14.

Poulter needed two birdies in his last four holes for a 59. He two-putted for par from 12 feet on 15, then saved par from a bunker at the 16th. Poulter had a 25-foot birdie chance on 17, but was unable to convert.

At the last, Poulter found the fairway off the tee. He dropped his second shot inside seven feet and drained that putt for birdie to close out his second straight bogey-free round.

"As happy as I am, I'm just a little disappointed to not have a magic 59," said Poulter, who tied for sixth in Singapore last week. "I hit a great putt on 17, but the grain held it out. How can you be disappointed with 60?"

Kang carded three birdies in a five-hole stretch on the front nine. Around the turn, he birdied three of the first four holes to climb to minus-nine. Kang grabbed the early lead as he birdied each of the last three holes.

"It came out of nowhere. I've been struggling all year long, but the last six weeks it has been getting better," Kang said of his recent play.

McIlroy birdied the sixth, but gave that shot back with a bogey on No. 8. He holed out for eagle from the fairway on the ninth to jump to minus-nine.

Around the turn, McIlroy birdied 10 and 13 to get within one of Kang. McIlroy converted back-to-back birdie putts at 15 and 16 to take the lead. At the last, McIlroy found a bunker off the tee, then mis-hit his second shot. That shot ended in the water, which led to a closing double-bogey.

"The finish was quite disappointing, but I'm still right there," McIlroy said.

NOTES: The cut line fell at two-under-par 138 with 66 players making it to the weekend...Among those missing the cut were Robert Rock and Thomas Aiken, who could also fall out of the top-60 on the Race to Dubai list...The top 60 on the Race to Dubai qualify for the season-ending Dubai World Championship next week...Also missing the cut were Marc Warren, Nick Dougherty and Alastair Forsyth, who will all finish outside the top 115 on the Order of Merit and therefore lose their tour cards for 2011.


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