Ian Poulter (Getty Images)
Ian Poulter’s brilliant closing 65 saw him turn a four shot deficit into a two stroke victory at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions.
The architect of Europe’s remarkable Ryder Cup victory last month where he won all four of his matches, Poulter’s putter was equally destructive at Mission Hills as he carded eight birdies before dropping a shot at the penultimate hole to finish 21 under par.
It brought him a 12th European Tour title and second in a WGC event, after he took the Accenture Match Play Championship in 2010.
“It’s been an amazing five or six weeks with The Ryder Cup and then coming here in good spirits,” said Poulter. “I played well last week and took a lot from that. I knew that if I stayed patient I’d be right there at the end.
“It was a special day. I knew there was a good round of golf in me out there on that golf course; as we saw yesterday, if you start going low and get a number on the board then you’re going to be hard to beat.
“I feel confident with the putter right now. It’s so nice to get my hands on another trophy and get back in the winner’s circle.”
For much of the day it looked as though Poulter’s fellow Englishman Lee Westwood was going to break his WGC duck at the 41st attempt.
Starting the day level with Louis Oosthuizen, the World Number Four picked up shots at the third and fourth, the latter after a brilliant approach to five feet, to go three clear.
His lead was eradicated when he double bogeyed the short fifth as South African Oosthuizen birdied from 30 feet, but Westwood responded with a birdie at the sixth from 20 feet and a curling 40 foot putt at the eighth.
Poulter had already birdied there from 25 feet after a two-putt gain at the seventh, and when he holed from 18 feet at the tenth the 36 year old was only one behind his Medinah teammate.
It was all change on the back nine as Westwood bogeyed the tenth and 12th and Poulter's further birdies at the 11th and 14th – the latter after a superb approach to six feet - took him two in front.
Having established a lead for the first time all week Poulter was in no mood to relinquish it, and sunk a 20 footer at the 15th to maintain his advantage as two-time winner Phil Mickelson and defending champion Martin Kaymer made late runs.
After bogeying the 17th Poulter needed a par at the last to extinguish Mickelson’s hopes, and he got up and down from a greenside bunker courtesy of a trademark ten foot clutch putt.
“I feel fantastic,” added Poulter. “I feel great. After looking at the board after two days, Louis being five shots clear - if he carries on that way, he was going to run away. But it was nice to put up two scores over the weekend, 14 under for Saturday and Sunday is a decent finish, and nice to get another victory in a year where there one was sorely needed.
“As well as I've played this year, it would have been a disappointment personally to have gone that year without winning, and for me and for how I played this year, it's obviously a great and fantastic feeling especially after The Ryder Cup to get my hands back on a great trophy like this.
“I definitely think it is a part continuation of The Ryder Cup. I played great and I felt like I holed putts at the right time, which I did.
“After two days, I felt I was probably too far back with the way Louis was playing, but as you saw anything is possible on this golf course once you get the putter warm.
“I've already spent the cheque last week. I'm not going to tell you what it is until it arrives and I've got it home safe and sound, but yes, it was a vehicle, and yes, it was very expensive. I'll let you all know what it is when it arrives. Some things don't change!”
Mickelson’s 68 saw him share second with compatriots Jason Dufner and Scott Piercy, as well as Open Champion Ernie Els, while Westwood’s short game let him down on the 15th and a bogey there saw him sign for a 72, the same as Oosthuizen, as the overnight leaders tied for sixth.
Kaymer ran up a triple bogey six at the 17th after finding trouble in the sand, and eventually finished ninth behind first round joint-leader Adam Scott.