Poulter rallies for win at HSBC Champions

Updated 04 November 2012
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Poulter rallies for win at HSBC Champions

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.


Pakistan’s Mohammad Amir ‘100 percent ready’ to face England, says coach

Updated 22 May 2018
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Pakistan’s Mohammad Amir ‘100 percent ready’ to face England, says coach

  • Left-armer is fit after a knee injury
  • 'He’s fine, he’s ready to go'

LONDON: Pakistan spearhead Mohammad Amir is “100 percent ready” for the first Test against England at Lord’s starting on Thursday despite a knee injury, according to team coach Mickey Arthur.
The left-arm fast bowler was seen stretching out his right knee as Pakistan beat Test debutants Ireland by five wickets during a one-off match in Malahide, Dublin concluded last week.
Pakistan bowling coach Azhar Mahmood suggested Amir had suffered a recurrence of a “chronic” problem.
But head coach Arthur, speaking to reporters at Lord’s on Tuesday, had no qualms about the fitness of Amir.
“He’s perfect, 100 percent,” Arthur insisted. “He’s fine, he’s ready to go.”
As for Amir, missing Pakistan’s final warm-up match ahead of the two-Test England series, last weekend’s drawn match against Leicestershire, Arthur added: “It was his rotation. (Mohammad) Abbas sat out the first (tour) game, Hasan (Ali) sat out the second, so he sat out the third.”
Amir was the hottest property in world cricket after bursting on the scene as a teenager in 2009 and at 18 he was the youngest bowler to have taken 50 Test wickets.
But his world was turned upside down in 2010 when he became involved in a spot-fixing scandal after deliberately bowling no-balls during the Lord’s Test against England — an incident that would eventually see him sent to prison by an English court and given a five-year ban by the International Cricket Council.
Amir’s first 14 Tests saw him take 51 wickets at just a fraction over 23 apiece, figures that had him on course to be an all-time great.
But the 17 Tests since his comeback two years ago have seen him take 49 wickets at a more expensive average of 34.91
Amir, and Pakistan for that matter, have not been helped by the fact that those 17 Tests since 2016 have also seen 16 catches dropped off his bowling.
The stigma of his spot-fixing exile has started to fade, with Amir playing for Pakistan during their 2-2 draw in a four-Test series in England two years ago.
He also starred for Essex as they won English domestic cricket’s first-class County Championship title last season.
Now the 26-year-old Amir is set to be the leader of an inexperienced Pakistan attack.
England, who didn’t manage a single win during their recent seven combined Tests in Australia and New Zealand, collapsed to 58 all out in Auckland in March as Kiwi left-arm quick Trent Boult took six wickets.
And Arthur backed Amir to do similar damage
“I think Mohammad Amir is the finest exponent of pace and swing when he gets it 100 percent right,” Arthur said.
“We’ve used that spell that Trent Boult bowled in Auckland. We’ve had a look at his lengths.
“We believe he (Amir) bowls incredibly well at left-handers and there will be three left-handers (Alastair Cook, Mark Stoneman and Dawid Malan) in the (England) top four.
“He’s ready, I just hope it goes really well for him because he’s been unlucky at times with the amount of dropped catches.
“He’s ready, he’s determined, he’s fit, he’s strong, he’s excited, he’s in a very good place at the moment.”
Arthur is unusual in having served as the head coach of three leading nations — his native South Africa, Australia and Pakistan.
But he was adamant he had no desire to replace Trevor Bayliss when the Australian steps down as England coach next year.
“No, I’m very happy,” Arthur said. “I’d like to keep going with Pakistan for as long as they will have me because it’s unfinished business for us at the moment. This is a very young cricket team and I worry if we move on what happens to these guys. Their fitness regime is outstanding, they are training hard and they are enjoying their cricket. I’m very, very happy with where I am at the moment,” he insisted.