Poulter shares RBC Heritage lead as Spieth, Koepka start well

By Sports Desk June 18, 2020

Ian Poulter grabbed a share of the lead at the RBC Heritage as Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka made solid starts on Thursday.

Poulter and American Mark Hubbard carded seven-under 64s in the first round at Harbour Town Golf Links in South Carolina to be tied atop the leaderboard.

Englishman Poulter has finished no lower than tied for 32nd in his past five events and the 44-year-old made seven birdies to begin the PGA Tour tournament.

Poulter and Hubbard share a one-stroke lead ahead of a group of seven players.

Sebastian Munoz, Viktor Hovland, Michael Thompson, Webb Simpson, Dylan Frittelli, Brice Garnett and Ryan Palmer opened with six-under 65s.

Coming off a top-10 finish at the Charles Schwab Challenge, former world number one Spieth made a fine start with a five-under 66.

The American recovered from a triple bogey at the par-four 12th hole – his third of the day – and was two over through his first 10 holes.

However, Spieth reeled off seven birdies from the second hole through the ninth, including six straight, to be tied for 10th.

Matthew NeSmith, Tony Finau, Matt Fitzpatrick, Erik van Rooyen and Mackenzie Hughes are alongside Spieth at five under.

Four-time major champion Koepka opened with a 67 to be tied for 16th alongside Rickie Fowler and Ernie Els, among others.

World number one Rory McIlroy, playing the tournament for the first time since 2009, battled to a one-over 72 to be well back.

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    Eddie Pepperell holed a long-range birdie at the last hole to take a one-shot lead into Saturday's final round of the British Masters at The Belfry.

    The 30-year-old was a shot back from overnight leaders Calum Hill, Robert MacIntyre and Richard Bland at the start of play on Friday, but a second successive 68 moved him into the lead.

    Pepperell, who won the tournament in 2018, finished strongly with three birdies in his last seven holes - including an impressive 40-foot putt on the 18th.

    That moved the world number 210 to 10 under for the tournament, with six players - including erstwhile leaders Hill and MacIntyre - in a tie for second.

    Edoardo Molinari, Adrian Meronk, Dean Burmester and Guido Migliozzi were all also a stroke off the pace in a congested pack that saw the leading 26 players separated by five shots at the 54-hole stage.

    "I remember the game feeling easier when I was playing better a few years ago. That's what I'm trying to get back to," Pepperell told Sky Sports.

    "There were times out there today I didn't get it and times when I did - that seems to be the way it is.

    "I've still got things going on in the swing that I can feel aren't where they once were and can cause me aggro, so the game still feels difficult."

    Pre-tournament favourite MacIntyre dropped his only shot of the day on the par-four 10th hole as he failed to recover from a wayward tee shot.

    "The way I play golf is aggressive and the course suits me perfectly," MacIntyre said. "When I'm in the fairway, a right-hand side pin is in danger, I just can't leave it alone.

    "I didn't drive it my best today but I hit my irons beautifully - they were all over the pin but the putter was cold. It was on fire the day before so hopefully it turns up tomorrow."

    Three birdies in his last four holes ensured that MacIntyre's fellow Scotsman Hill also remained firmly in the mix, while Molinari revived his own hopes by posting a 64, the lowest score of the day.

  • Hill, MacIntyre and Bland share lead at The Belfry Hill, MacIntyre and Bland share lead at The Belfry

    Calum Hill dropped into a share of the lead with Robert MacIntyre and Richard Bland by bogeying the last hole in his second round at the British Masters.

    Hill held a one-shot advantage when he teed off at the 18th at The Belfry on Thursday, but moved to back seven under in a disappointing finish.

    The 26-year-old Kirkcaldy native was a shot back from overnight leader Matthias Schwab at the start of the day and a two-under 70 kept him firmly in the mix.

    Hill birdied the third and chipped in from thick greenside rough to go seven under at the fourth, going out in 35 after a first bogey of the day at the par-four eighth.

    Back-to-back gains followed straight after the turn, but he was unable to stay out on his own, bogeying the final hole after reeling off six consecutive pars.

    MacIntyre made his move with a brilliant six-under 66, starting with five birdies in a row and picking up another three shots on the back nine after bogeys at the sixth and 12th.

    The left-hander, tied for 12th in The Masters last month, had started the tournament with a 71, but surged up the leaderboard with a magnificent second round.

    Bland backed up his opening 68 with a three-under 69 and the Englishman is bogey-free through his opening two rounds.

    Frenchman Julien Guerrier signed for a sublime 66 to stand well poised just a shot off the leading trio along with Justin Harding and Eddie Pepperell.

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