Poulter cruises to victory

11/21/2010 8:43:02 AM
Ian Poulter  (Getty Images)
Ian Poulter (Getty Images)

Ian Poulter landed his tenth European Tour title by holding off all challengers at the UBS Hong Kong Open.

The 34 year old, who narrowly missed out at last week's Barclays Singapore Open, closed with a three under par 67 to finish with a 22 under par aggregate of 258.

That was one clear of compatriot Simon Dyson and Italy's Matteo Manassero, but in truth The Ryder Cup star never looked like relinquishing the advantage he had held since the second round.

A bogey at the last after his approach found the bunker slightly spoiled his card, but three birdies on the front nine and a brilliant eagle at the par five 13th - where he nailed his drive then faded a fairway wood approach to 12 feet - secured victory.

"It feels more than good," said Poulter. "I'll be honest, the last two weeks I've been really disappointed. Shanghai I was lying fourth with six holes to play.

"Obviously last week, I was in the lead for a number of holes. I was in position again to win and I didn't do it - I didn't convert the putts.

"I played nicely on Sunday - on Monday shall I say - and didn't quite convert the putts, and I've played great all week this week.

"I think today, I actually played better to shoot three under than I did ten under. I don't think I've hit as many good golf shots today in a long time. So it was nice, I felt calm all day. I felt as if I just kept going around my business, I'd make a few birdie putts and that would be enough to win - it's very pleasing to do so."

Dyson's 65 saw him emerge as the main challenger, but after a front nine 30 the former KLM Open winner's putter went cold on the way in and he picked up just one more shot.

"Disappointed," admitted the former Asian Tour Order of Merit winner. "I played lovely today, I just didn't hole a thing on the back nine, didn't hole a thing.

"Eight kind of stopped me in my tracks. I got off to such a great start that the bogey on eight just stopped me in my tracks a bit.

"I had a good chance at nine - I had a good chance on every hole the back nine. Didn't miss a green and they just didn't want to drop and that last one summed it up, absolutely summed it up. It can't miss three foot out, downhill, downgrain and it stops two inches short.

"Still, a great week. I played lovely, and it's good to take into the last tournament of the year."

Manassero's eight under 62 confirmed the teenager's outstanding talent, while American Anthony Kang took fourth ahead of Graeme McDowell - who having been second overnight will be disappointed not to have made a bigger dent in Martin Kaymer's Race to Dubai lead.

World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play winner Poulter had hardly put a foot wrong all week and when he found water at the third it was his first bogey of the tournament.

"After hitting a poor four iron on the third hole and making bogey, I think I pretty much had a birdie putt on every single hole," he added. "You know, putts from eight feet which kept looking like they were going to go in but didn't. But to make five at the last, get the job done, it's a good victory."

The win also moves Poulter to eleventh in the Official World Golf Rankings and increases his earnings in The Race to Dubai to €1,983,142 - the most he has ever won in a single European Tour season.

Manassero became the youngest ever winner on The European Tour in Spain last month, and was pleased to continue his good form.

"Fantastic day actually for me," he said. "I started the day quite far behind - Poulter was 19, I was 13.

"I made some great shots, so I'm very happy with the way I played and the way I tried to catch the leaders."

McDowell's challenge for the title never really materialised as the Northern Irishman finished with a two under 68 to take fifth place.

The US Open Champion was undone by two bogeys in his first three holes and though he recovered on the back nine with five birdies, it was too late to threaten playing partner Poulter.

McDowell now switches his focus to the Dubai World Championship next week where he hopes to be crowned Europe's Number One ahead of current Race to Dubai leader Martin Kaymer, having reduced his arrears to €214,222.

Rory McIlroy had narrowly missed out on victory at the Hong Kong Golf Club in the last two years and though he started well this time he was never really in the hunt as the final round progressed.

The 21 year old bogeyed the first and though he recovered with four birdies over his next 12 holes, another dropped shot on the par four 14th left him with plenty to do in his remaining holes.

McIlroy birdied the 16th before making par on the last two holes to finish on 18 under, four shots behind Poulter in sixth.

Last year's winner Grégory Bourdy claimed a share of 11th after carding a 68 while Europe's Ryder Cup-winning Captain Colin Montgomerie shot a 69 to tie for 47th place.