Beijing, China: Liang Wen-chong holed out with a nine-iron on his way to leading the Shui On Land China Golf Challenge after eight holes, following stops at two golf clubs in Beijing on day three of the week-long event.
The Chinese number one eagled the first of four holes in the capital to go two-under, while overnight leader Poulter finished the day at one-under for the 18-hole, seven-city tournament.
World number two Lee Westwood is one-over and US Open champion Rory McIlroy is off the pace at six-over after recording a triple-bogey in the afternoon.
A champagne-drenched launch ceremony started the day at the new Topwin Golf and Country Club before Liang took the celebrations to a new level when he holed out from 139 yards to eagle the 470-yard par-four and move to two-under, one ahead of Poulter.
“I was very lucky this morning with my nine-iron shot, but I’m just going to keep going. I had to hit my approach first as my opening tee-shot was a bit right and was the shortest,” laughed Liang, who has parred each of the other seven holes.
“I looked at it and knew it was 139 yards, so I picked up a nine-iron. I didn’t know it was going in, but it felt good and then I saw it roll in. It was a great feeling and the crowd loved it.”
Liang is the darling of the home fans and is relishing the challenge of representing China and hosting three of the world’s most famous golfers.
“It’s good to be the leader, but more importantly we just want to make it fun for the fans and encourage big galleries at each leg,” he said. “That’s most important and we have four cities to go.”
Poulter, who started the day one-under, found water on his way to a bogey at Topwin’s 590-yard par-five, so was two behind Liang as the action moved to Jade Island International Golf Club in the afternoon.
The ever-competitive Englishman drew within one again with a birdie at the 175-yard par-three. Westwood hit his tee-shot into the trees on his way to bogeying the 444-yard par-four to drop back to one-over, while McIlroy’s erratic performance included a triple-bogey at the par-three.
Poulter said: “I pulled one back on the par-three which was great and it’s always nice to be in the hunt to win. Unfortunately Rory dropped a couple of shots and Lee bogeyed the last today, but I’m sure they’re both going to come back.”
Poulter and Liang had a battle of a different kind in the morning when they missed out on seeing the Great Wall after getting up early to see China’s most famous landmark.
Poulter and Liang, who travelled together on the Bombardier Challenger 605 for both of Tuesday’s flights, set off for the Great Wall at 6.20am, but their chauffeur lost his way.
“I was obviously disappointed that we didn’t quite get to see it,” said Poulter. “We got so far up one of the hills, but then they said we could only got the rest of the way on horseback. Unfortunately I didn’t bring my spurs!”
Liang said he would try to help his friend on his next visit: “I have visited the Great Wall before, so I’m fine, but I feel sorry for Ian as it’s his first time in Beijing.”
After Jade Island, the players then flew on the two Bombardier jets to Dalian, where they will play three holes at the 36-hole Red Flag Valley on Thursday.
The Shui On Land China Golf Challenge is being filmed by IMG Media and showcased on Golfing World.