Ian Poulter has been saying on Twitter for weeks that his game was close to peaking, and he was right.
Poulter's Saturday 63 puts him only three shots behind a dominant Duston Johnson. The Brit will have the chance at successfully defending his World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions title on Sunday when he tees off with Johnson in the final round.
Poulter will have to rally, but his game is rolling after a 17 birdies and two eagles through 54 holes.
"I just need to do my thing tomorrow and make a lot more than what he does," Poulter said. "I'm going to have to see what happens coming down the stretch. It will always be great to be in the last group, seeing what's going on. It fires you up even more."
A win would give Poulter one of the final spots in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, where he's played only twice in his career. He finished in the top 10 both times at Kapalua.
Both of Poulter's PGA TOUR wins have occured at World Golf Championship events. He won the 2010 World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship, then won the 2012 World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions after a blistering 65-65 finish on the weekend.
"I have to do my thing tomorrow. It's only Saturday. You can't win tournaments on Saturday," Poulter said. "It's all about playing well on Sunday. I need to do that. I need to make plenty of birdies, try and make an eagle; if I can, I can get close."
By PGATOUR.COM staff
The third round of the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions was a round where players either needed to make birdies in bunches or get left behind.
Birdies alone weren't enough for Dustin Johnson, who had 10 Saturday but double bogeyed two holes on the inward nine to post a 6-under 66 that left him three clear of Ian Poulter after 54 holes.
"If you would have told me I would shoot 6 under before teeing off today, I'd have taken it," Johnson said. "Obviously left a few shots out there."
Johnson entered the day five clear of the pack and had that same advantage on the 18th tee when he blocked his drive into a water hazard and went on to drop a pair of shots on the finishing hole.
Poulter, the defending champion, had eight birdies and an eagle in his 63 that would have tied the course record if Martin Kaymer hadn't reached the clubhouse in 62 about an hour earlier.
Graeme McDowell was alone in third, four off the pace after his 64. Graham DeLaet (65), Justin Rose (65) and Rory McIlroy (67) were two more shots back at 12 under.
Kaymer started the day at even par after rounds of 70 and 74 at Sheshan International but climbed as high as a share of third on the leaderboard as he racked up 10 birdies (while taking pars on a pair of par-5s) on a course he won on in 2011.
Kaymer was gunning for a 59, but parred the final two holes.
"I didn't really play much different than the last few days," Kaymer said. "I just made a few putts, a couple unexpected ones."
Johnson, a seven-time PGA TOUR winner, is looking to claim a victory in his debut event for the second consecutive season.
By PGATOUR.COM staff
Starting the weekend a dozen shots off the pace and tied for 38th isn't an ideal position but Martin Kaymer made the most of it Saturday at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions.
Kaymer, who won this event in 2011 -- the last time it was contested at Sheshan International -- racked up a staggering 10 birdies Saturday to post a course record 10-under. After rounds of 70 and 74 to open the event, Kaymer finds himself well inside the top 10 on the leaderboard.
Whether that puts the 2010 PGA Champion within striking distance of picking up his second official PGA TOUR victory will depend on the Saturday finishes of Dustin Johnson and Ian Poulter -- the two names above Kaymer's on the leaderboard when he completed his round.
Kaymer was one of six players to have a share of the previous course record, shooting a 9-under 63 at Sheshan in the final round of his 2011 HSBC Champions victory.
The German started his round on the tenth tee and had two runs of three birdies separated by a par on No. 13 before making the turn in 6-under 30. He picked up his seventh birdie on No. 2 and added three more on holes 4-6 before finishing his round with back-to-back-to-back pars.
Through the first 36 holes, Kaymer had a dozen birdies, eight bogeys and two doubles but he eliminated those big numbers and upped the birdie count Saturday to turn his week around.
Ian Poulter made five consecutive birdies on the front nine (holes 3-7) and added one at No. 9 to make the turn in 30, reach 12 under and become the closest in pursuit of leader Dustin Johnson at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions. Click above to check out Poulter as he attempts to win this event for the second year in a row.
By PGATOUR.COM staff
As the final groups tee off for the third round of the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions and the 11 p.m. ET TV window approaches, here are some things to note.
• Dustin Johnson, a five-shot leader after 36 holes, is in pursuit of a victory in his debut for the second consecutive season. He also won the 2013 Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
• Joining Johnson in the final group are Boo Weekley and Bubba Watson, who each attended, and played golf at, Milton High School in Florida. They were last grouped together in a TOUR event for the first two rounds of the 2007 U.S. Open.
• Rory McIlroy will look to continue his strong play at Sheshan. He's finished fourth (2009), fifth (2010) and T4 (2011). After opening 65-72, he's five shots off the pace and tied for second.
• Tied for fifth at 6 under, Tommy Fleetwood (No. 131 in the Official World Golf Ranking) is looking to become the lowest-ranked player to ever win any World Golf Championships event.
• The antepenultimate group should have a large following. It features defending champion Ian Poulter with China's Wen-chong Liang, who is No. 6 on the Asian Tour's Order of Merit, and Jin Jeong, who tops the PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit.
By PGATOUR.COM staff
Dustin Johnson threatened to lap the field on Friday during the second round of the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions.
But the talk in Shanghai wasn't just about the 63 he shot to tie the Sheshen International course record and open a commanding five-stroke lead. Here are some of the other interesting topics of conversation:
On whether playing golf in China is different that in the United States: "No, it's about the same. I just don't hear much English. But it's about the same. Good golf course, fast greens, and great shape." Bubba Watson
On whether he and Bubba Watson, who are tied for second with Rory McIlroy, are from the same small town in the Florida panhandle: "I'm not from Bagdad. He's from Bagdad. I'm from across the river from him. I'm from East Milton. It is close but it's a different." Boo Weekley
On his quadruple bogey in the first round: "I don't know the history of it but the last time I made a quadruple bogey, I won the tournament, TOUR Championship, 14th hole at East Lake in 2009. So it's an omen." Phil Mickelson
On whether his fiancee, Paulina Gretzky, had noticed he has lots of female fans: "I have no idea. I'm sure she does but I don't know. She doesn't bother me with that." Dustin Johnson
On his play in the first two rounds: "I haven't really lit the world up on the greens yet this week, but you know, it was kind of tough to focus when playing with Dustin Johnson, hitting it 350 yards in the middle of the fairways. It was kind of a little demoralizing at times." Graeme McDowell