Sunday, 18 April 1999
Ian Poulter kept his nerve and his two-shot overnight advantage to win the Ivory Coast Open, his first Challenge Tour title, in hot and sunny Abidjan.

The 23 year old from Luton carded a closing 73 for a four-under-par tally of 284 and a two stroke victory margin over French pair Sebastien Delagrange and Marc Pendaries, who also returned 73, and fast-finishing Welshman David Park, with 69.

"I'm absolutely delighted," said Poulter, who is attached to the Leighton Buzzard club. "This is my first big win as a professional. I've won on the Hippo Tour but this means a lot to me. Now the target is to get my tour card."

The omens are on his side because the three previous Ivory Coast winners - Massimo Florioli of Italy, Denmark's Knud Storegaard, and John Mellor from Sheffield - all progressed to the main tour.

Poulter, who led from the second round, was still two in front at the turn, but a double-bogey six at the 15th cut his lead to one.

However, his main rivals were unable to take advantage and when Poulter arrived on the 18th tee he knew a par-four would probably be good enough. He achieved
that with a chip to six feet and a single putt.

Park got to three under after 17 but bogeyed the last to drop back into a tie for second place with the two Frenchmen.

However, the Hereford-based 24 year old had the consolation of knowing that his €5,086 prize takes him to No.1 in the rankings above Maarten Lafeber of Holland,
who finished fifth.

Poulter picked up 11,370 euros but Irishman David Higgins upstaged him by landing a10 million African francs jackpot for a hole-in-one with a 7-iron at the 176-yard 16th. In the tournament itself the 26 year old from Waterville earned just 563 euros by finishing joint 28th.

"I'm delighted because I haven't been playing well," he said. "But it was just a perfect shot which landed about a yard in front of the flag and rolled into the hole."

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