Brooks Koepka leads Ian Poulter by four shots at CJ Cup
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 20/10/18 3:03pm
Brooks Koepka opened up a commanding four-shot lead at the CJ Cup in Korea as a flying finish from Ian Poulter kept the Englishman in contention after day three.
Koepka gained control of the lucrative event with a clean five-birdie 67 that lifted him to 13 under at Nine Bridges on Jeju Island, while Poulter ensured a place in Sunday's final group when he birdied three of the last four holes to return a spirited 68.
Poulter shares second with overnight-leader Scott Piercy, whose birdie-birdie finish merely salvaged a 72, while Rafa Cabrera Bello is among a group of six players who will go into the final round five strokes off the pace.
But Koepka will resume on Sunday as the overwhelming favourite to add another win to an outstanding double major-winning season, although he had to overcome a frustrating start to his third round.
The US Open and PGA champion parred the first eight holes before igniting his charge with back-to-back birdies around the turn, and he then drove the green at the 353-yard 14th to set up another gain.
Koepka converted further chances at each of the last two holes to double his lead over the chasing pack, and he is now in prime position to earn the victory he needs to jump ahead of Justin Rose and Dustin Johnson at the top of the world rankings.
"These fairways are so tight that you come down on it a little bit harder and deloft the club a little bit more and then the ball goes even further," he said. "So you just got to be a little bit cautious of it and make sure you're hitting the correct shot and know where you want to leave the next shot from.
"But off the tee you can take advantage, hit over a lot of these bunkers and give yourself a good opportunity."
Poulter will head out in the final group with Koepka and Piercy on Sunday after the Ryder Cup star also produced an excellent back nine to keep himself in the hunt for his second PGA Tour win of 2018.
The veteran dropped an early shot at the fourth but finally got it back at the ninth and, after another birdie at 12, he picked up shots at 15, 16 and 18 to close on nine under alongside Piercy, who was two over for the day after his fifth bogey at the 16th before birdies at the final two holes revived his chances.
Cabrera Bello birdied four of the first five holes and went on to card a bogey-free 65 that propelled the Spaniard 18 places up the leaderboard and into a share of fourth, while Paul Casey eagled the last for a 66 which also included six birdies and two bogeys.
Casey resumes on six under par, while round of the day went to 22-year-old Indian talent Shubhankar Sharma, who recovered from a bogey at the first to card nine birdies, six of them over the last eight holes, in a superb 64.