Team guy Poulter does it for himself to land Chinese windfall
Ian Poulter joked about taking two years off after his Ryder Cup heroics. Now he is glad he didn’t. Five weeks on from his unbeaten performance in the victory over the Americans, the 36-year-old yesterday joined Darren Clarke as the only Europeans to win two World Golf Championship titles.
Poulter trailed by nine shots halfway through the HSBC Champions at Mission Hills in China, but two closing rounds of 65 gave him a two-stroke triumph over British Open champion Ernie Els and Americans Phil Mickelson, Jason Dufner and Scott Piercy.
“It’s so nice to get my hands on another trophy,” said Poulter, whose last success was the Australian Masters last December. “I’ve been in good form for a while and knew if I did the right things and stayed patient I would be right there. It’s been an amazing six weeks.”
What he could not have expected, however, was for both overnight leaders Lee Westwood and Louis Oosthuizen to finish so poorly. After a third round 61 had brought him level Westwood went three clear early on, but double-bogeyed the short fifth and had three back nine bogeys.
That makes it a total of 100 majors and world championships in his career and the 39-year-old has yet to win one.
Oosthuizen, five clear of the field after 36 holes, also shot only a level par 72 on the low-scoring lay-out and so they dropped back into a tie for sixth place. Poulter’s performance certainly put a smile back on his face after he had let off steam on Twitter on Saturday night about Arsenal’s performance at Manchester United.
“Simply not good enough,” he told his 1.3million followers. “This is not an Arsenal side that can compete. But they are making a profit. I guess someone is happy. Bored of watching this sh*t. Not in the same league. Won’t finish top six.”
Poulter was in a tie for fourth with 18 holes and still two back despite a front nine 32. But while Westwood then bogeyed the 10th, 12th and long 15th his fellow Englishman kept his foot on the accelerator. An 18-foot putt gave Poulter a fifth birdie of the day on the 10th, he two-putted from the fringe on the 568-yard next and at the 15th he was bunkered in two, but holed another 18-footer.
Mickelson, Els and defending champion Martin Kaymer had become his biggest dangers by then, but the German’s chances went when he fell from joint second to ninth with a triple-bogey on the short 17th. After finding sand off the tee Kaymer went over the green, then chipped back into the bunker he had just left.
Poulter’s lead came down from three to one when Mickelson also birdied the 15th and he bogeyed the 17th, failing to get up and down from right of the green. But the three-time Masters champion took four on the 17th himself, duffing a chip that did not even make the green.