Poulter rallies for win at HSBC Champions



JUSTIN BERGMAN | AP

Published — Sunday 4 November 2012

Last update 4 November 2012 4:21 pm

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SHENZHEN, China: Ian Poulter shot a 7-under 65 to rally from four strokes back to win the HSBC Champions on Sunday.
Poulter, who sparked the European squad to victory at the Ryder Cup this year, had eight birdies against one bogey in the final round to finish at 21-under 267 overall on the Olazabal Course at Mission Hill Golf Club.
It was the Englishman’s second World Golf Championship victory — he also captured the Accenture Match Play Championship in 2010 — and his first title of any kind since the Volvo World Match Play Championship in May 2011.
Phil Mickelson (68), Jason Dufner (64), Scott Piercy (65) and Ernie Els (67) finished in a tie for second at 19-under 269.
Lee Westwood and Louis Oosthuizen, the co-leaders overnight, slumped to equal sixth after struggling on the greens and posting identical scores of 72.
Poulter was the hero for the European squad at the Ryder Cup, making five straight birdies alongside Rory McIlroy to rally the pair past Dufner and Zach Johnson and give the Europeans the point they needed to keep their hopes alive.
Poulter had four wins in four matches at Medinah and improved his career Ryder Cup record to 12-3_the highest winning percentage of any European golfer in history.
But he was winless on the PGA and European tours this year and said before the HSBC Champions that he wanted a title badly.
On a day when five different players topped the leaderboard, with several others in close contention, it was the charismatic Poulter who was the steadiest.
Starting the day four shots back in a share of fourth place, the Englishman surged into the lead after birdying four holes on the front nine and then two more after the turn.
Mickelson and Els tried to stay close, but both wasted opportunities to pull even. Mickelson bogeyed the 12th after missing a 5-footer by an inch, while Els bogeyed the 14th after lipping out a putt from 3 feet out.
Defending champion Martin Kaymer looked set to make a final-day comeback for the second straight year, too. Last year, the German birdied nine of his last 12 holes to rally from five shots down in the final round for a shocking three-stroke victory.
There would be no repeat this year. Starting six shots back, he had five birdies in six holes on the back nine before a disastrous triple bogey on the 17th foiled his chances. He ended up in ninth place, one stroke behind Australian Adam Scott.
Poulter, meanwhile, calmly sank a 5-foot putt on the 14th hole for birdie and a two-stroke lead. Then, after setting himself up with a difficult 20-foot putt on the tricky 15th hole, he lined the shot up perfectly and dropped it in for birdie.
With Mickelson still in position to catch him, Poulter made a difficult chip shot from the bunker on 18th and sunk a 10-foot putt to seal the victory.
It was another Englishman who started the day atop the leaderboard, however, playing the best golf of anyone in the field. Westwood had putted brilliantly on Saturday, making 11 birdies to shoot a 61_one of the lowest rounds of his career.
He jumped out to a three-stroke advantage early Sunday after making two quick birdies on the front nine. But that’s when his putting began to break down.
On the par-3 fifth hole, he triple-putted for a double bogey. He then missed putts within 10 feet on three consecutive holes before completely unraveling on the back nine with three bogeys, including on the 15th when he hit a chip shot into the gallery.
Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion, was also never able to regain the form that saw him reach 16 under after two rounds — the lowest 36-hole score in a World Championship Golf event since they began in 1999.
He struggled with his putting for a second consecutive day and had four bogeys.

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