• Turkish Airlines Open

Wayward Tiger six adrift, Poulter in the hunt

Paul Mahoney in Turkey
November 9, 2013
'You couldn't see Woods for the trees' © Getty Images

History lessons showed us how the French treated royalty. Tomorrow, Tiger Woods, the new King of Turkey, will be planning his own revolution and hoping runaway leader Victor Dubuisson is the one who loses his head.

The World No.1 is at 15-under par, six shots adrift of the Frenchman, who carded a 63 and has never won on tour before.

"We know we have to go out there and post a low one and see what happens," Woods said after a third-round 4-under par 68. "Just got to hang in there," he said. "I'm not out of the tournament. Got to keep fighting and that's the way I've always played."

Ian Poulter is 16-under par while Henrik Stenson, Alejandro Canizares and Raphael Jacquelin are tied with Woods at 15-under. The course record was broken yet again with Jacquelin equalling the European Tour's record of 12 birdies in a round as he posted a 10-under 62. It is only the sixth time it has been achieved and he joins the exalted company of Ernie Els, Darren Clarke and Fred Couples.

Woods would have been even closer to Dubuisson had he not lost his swing on the back nine. You couldn't see Woods for the trees and he sprayed his drives into the umbrella pines that look like giant sticks of broccoli. His brilliance saved par at the 10th putting 15 yards of cut on an iron around a tree.

Dubuisson leads at 21-under © Getty Images

"That was a good one," he said. "Considering that these golf balls just don't move as much as they used to. So to slice it that much from that sort of distance was pretty good." He played another miracle shot from 30 yards right of the fairway at the 11th.

This time he slashed at his ball with a 3-wood and slammed his hand against a tree on his follow through. He grimaced and shook his hand in pain. The crowd applauded in sympathy for his bravery rather than whooping and hollering at the awesome spectacle of taking on such an audacious shot. That's why he gets the $3 million appearance fee.

"I smoked it on something," Woods said. "I hit something hard." His ball found a greenside bunker and he promptly coaxed it out of the sand and holed the putt. Birdie. Unbelievable.

But his luck and genius ran out. Bogey at the 12th when he had to chip out sideways. Another at the 15th when his approach hit a tree and one more dropped shot at the 16th when he had to stand on one leg and straddle a tree trunk. He duffed it three yards.

Yet, as so often throughout his career, he made a statement on the final green when it looked like he had driven himself out of contention. He hooked his drive so far left he even played a provisional ball. But his luck was in. His ball was found. He smashed it through a gap between the trees, got a free drop off a footpath, fired his approach to 20 feet and rolled in the putt for birdie. Cue bedlam as he saluted it raising his putter to the heavens.

It was another tough day battling mobile phones in a country that has never hosted such a major tournament before. Stenson's patience ran out. He looked ready to self-combust after backing off his drive at the 13th four times.

"There are so many mobile phones going off and it gets pretty annoying," he said. "If the crowd could just turn the sound off it would be alright but they keep insisting on making us aware if it.

The officials said anyone using a mobile phone would be ejected from the grounds," Stenson said. "If that were true, it would be pretty empty here on Sunday."

Poulter knows how tough it will be for Dubuisson to close out for what would be his maiden victory.

"He's in a position he's probably not been in before," he said. "And there's quite a few names right behind him which, you know, are pretty good players. If one of the guys gets off to a fast start, then he can be caught," Poulter said. "Try and put a lot of pressure on him. Just try to make more birdies than he does and see how close I can get."

The final round will reveal if Dubuisson will finally live up to his first name or be a spectacular loser.

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