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Johnson leads Poulter by three, McDowell one back

ESPN staff
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Johnson strides into the lead at the WGC-HSBC Champions © Getty Images
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Dustin Johnson carded an astonishing round of 66 which included two double-bogeys and 10 birdies as he failed to extend his overnight lead at the WGC-HSBC Champions.

Despite carding a six at the par-4 10th, Johnson stood on the 18th tee with his five shot lead from the second round still intact.

But the big-hitting American dunked his ball in the water at Sheshan International's par-5 final hole before finding a greenside bunker en route to a seven.

It means Johnson's lead is cut to three going into Sunday's final round after defending champion Ian Poulter recorded a 63 to reach 15-under par.

"It was another really good day and I played really well," Johnson said. "Obviously the two doubles hurt a little bit, but to have a three shot lead going into the last day is good, and looking forward to the challenge.

"I still have to play really well - the guys that are right behind me, they are playing very well too.

"Making two doubles, there's no excuse for that. Especially the way I'm playing right now, it shouldn't happen."

Poulter, looking to become only the second player after Tiger Woods to successfully defend a WGC title, stormed through the leaderboard with five birdies in a row from the third and another at nine to go out in 30. He added another birdie at 10 and an eagle at 14.

Poulter three-putted the 17th for his only bogey of the day, but earned the shot back immediately with birdie at the last to remain firmly in the hunt for the £850,000 prize in the second event of the Race to Dubai Final Series.

"It was a nice day," Poulter said. "Guys have shot low today; benign weather conditions, not much wind, soft greens, perfect greens to putt on, you've got to make birdies.

"As well as I played, I felt that other guys were still going to make birdies. So I felt like I had to keep pressing.

"You had to get it inside 15 feet. The greens are so perfect and if you start it on line, it's going to go in. I could see other guys doing exactly the same - Kaymer shot ten under, and I think Dustin had ten birdies - this golf course is giving up a lot of birdies.

Graeme McDowell is one shot back from Poulter after an 8-under 64, while US Open champion Justin Rose and Canadian Graham DeLaet carded 65s to join Rory McIlroy, 67, on 12-under par.

"It's just nice to be in contention going into tomorrow," McDowell said. "I know conditions are going to be fairly similar again tomorrow and I'll have to go low to even finish second here."

McDowell, who was the beneficiary of Johnson collapsing to a final-round 82 at the 2010 US Open, added: "Looks like Dustin will have to beat himself from here."

Martin Kaymer carded a course record 62 to move to 10-under par.

"I've shot 59 before and I thought, `There's a chance' - especially after my birdies on 4, 5, 6," Kaymer said. "But you can't make them all."

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