Foster errs on 18th but still leads by two at the Belfry

SUTTON COLDFIELD, England, Sep 23 (Reuters) Briton Mark Foster saw his four-shot British Masters advantage halved on the Belfry's notorious last hole but still leads going into the final round.

After double-bogeying the 18th, scene of many a calamity in past Ryder Cup matches, for a three-under-par 69 and a 10-under 206 three-round aggregate, the 32-year-old Englishman holds a two-shot advantage over six players.

Foster's club mate and former European number one Lee Westwood, fellow Briton Ian Poulter, three Swedes -- Niclas Fasth, Fredrik Andersson-Hed and first round leader Martin Erlandsson -- and Frenchman Gregory Bourdy are joint second.

The leader, looking for a second tour title four years after his first, looked largely untroubled as he came to the last, having picked up five shots.

At the 18th, though, Foster found the lake from the fairway and did well to limit the damage to double-bogey by holing a 10ft putt, yesterday.

BEST POSITION Having found a second tour success difficult to attain, Foster is now in the best position to win since he beat five others in a playoff for the 2003 Dunhill Championship in South Africa.

''Reflecting on it overall, it was a great day,'' Foster told a news conference. ''That final putt gives me a good mental image to take away.

''It was just one bad swing. I'll take the positives from the round,'' he added.

Of the second-placed group, Bourdy's 65 was the best return but Poulter mounted the best fightback.

Just before the event the English former Ryder Cup player was fined for the second time this year for misbehaviour on the course, having attacked tee-boxes on both occasions.

After he ran up a second double-bogey on the eighth, the tee-box on nine might well have been in danger but Poulter bit his lip and came back with four back-nine birdies to card a 70.

''I was burning inside but the tee-box was safe,'' Poulter told Reuters. ''I don't want to be paying for any more bottles of wine for the European Tour Christmas party.

''I knew I had to restrain myself, so I'll give myself a pat on the back for that.'' REUTERS BJR AS0943

Story first published: Sunday, September 23, 2007, 11:04 [IST]
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