Photo - Asian Tour
POULTER POWERS TO VICTORY AT UBS HONG KONG OPEN
Hong Kong: Ryder Cup star Ian Poulter lived up to his promise of winning the UBS Hong Kong Open after a final round three-under-par 67 gave him a one-stroke victory on Sunday.
The flamboyant Englishman was rock solid on another glorious day at the Hong Kong Golf Club to hold off former champion and countryman Simon Dyson, who battled hard with a 65, and talented Italian teenager Matteo Manassero, who charged up the leaderboard with a sparkling 62.
American Anthony Kang enjoyed his best result in 18 months by finishing fourth, two back, after a 65 while US Open champion Graeme McDowell and Ryder Cup teammate Rory McIlroy failed to ignite an expected challenge on Poulter with a 68 and 67 to settle for fifth and sixth respectively.
Asia’s best finisher was India’s Jeev Milkha Singh, in tied seventh place following a 67 in the US$2.5 million showpiece sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.
Poulter, who charged into contention with a blistering second round 60, slipped up early with a bogey on three after he found the water hazard but bounced straight back with birdies on four, six and seven.
A 15-foot eagle conversion on the par five 13th proved decisive as it gave him a two-shot cushion and he even enjoyed the luxury of dropping only his second bogey of the tournament at the 18th hole to secure his second title of the year and 10thon the European Tour.
“Yes, it feels more than good. I'll be honest, the last two weeks I've been really disappointed (in Shanghai and Singapore finishing 13th and sixth). And I've played great all week this week. I think today, I actually played better to shoot three under than I did 10 under. I don't think I've hit as many good golf shots today in a long time,” said a jubilant Poulter, winner of the WGC-Accenture Match Play earlier this year.
“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.”
Poulter, who is expected to return into the world’s top-10, knew that the chasing pack would not back down on the course which yielded low scoring all week. “The way I was hitting it, I was hitting it inside 12 feet pretty much nearly every hole out there. So if I kept doing that, I'd be very tough to beat. Holing that putt on 13 gave me that little bit of a cushion and from then, I gave myself five chances coming in. So I was fairly, fairly comfortable,” said Poulter, who won US$416,660.
Dyson, winner in Hong Kong 10 years ago when he won the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit in his rookie professional season, tied Poulter early on with a superb start when he chipped in for eagle on three and sank three more birdies. But a dropped shot on the par three eighth stopped his title charge.
“Disappointed. I played lovely today. I just didn't hole a thing on the back nine. Eight kind of stopped me in my tracks. You know, I got off to such a great start that the bogey on eight just stopped me a bit,” said Dyson.
“I had a good chance on every hole on the back nine. Didn't miss a green and they just didn't want to drop and that last one summed it up.”
Manassero underlined his growing credentials as a future star in the making with a flying finish highlighted by six birdies and an eagle. The Italian, who became the youngest ever winner in Europe after winning the Castello Masters in Spain recently, was delighted with his second place outing in his first visit to the UBS Hong Kong Open.
“Fantastic day for me. I started quite far behind. Yesterday wasn't as quiet almost but I wasn't holing as many putts as I should. Today was a little bit like the second round. I made some great shots, so I'm very happy with the way I tried to catch the leaders,” said the 17-year-old.
Kang, who has three wins on the Asian Tour, stayed within striking range by going to five under through 12 holes but a bogey on 14 when he failed to get up and down for par stopped him in his tracks.
“You know, it was exciting being in there again. I was doing my best to make as many birdies and climb up the leaderboard. The bogey on 14 pretty much derailed all momentum there. The leaders are all world class players and they are not going to come back to the field,” said the Korean-born American.
“It’s my first top-10 in forever but this feels good. Nice to have the game come back a little bit. So things are looking up for me.”
Leading final round scores
258 - Ian Poulter (ENG) 67-60-64-67
259 - Simon Dyson (ENG) 64-65-65-65, Matteo Manassero (ITA) 67-63-67-62
260 - Anthony Kang (USA) 67-61-67-65
261 - Graeme McDowell (NIR) 65-65-63-68
262 - Rory McIlroy (NIR) 63-66-66-67
263 - Jeev Milkha Singh (IND) 63-67-66-67, Jamie Donaldson (WAL) 66-66-65-66, Gareth Maybin (NIR) 67-67-68-61
264 - Marcus Fraser (AUS) 68-63-67-66
265 - Gregory Bourdy (FRA) 66-66-65-68, Anders Hansen (DEN) 66-64-68-67, Soren Hansen (DEN) 64-67-70-64, Damien McGrane (IRL) 65-70-67-63
266 - Thongchai Jaidee (THA) 66-64-68-68
267 - Mark Brown (NZL) 62-69-65-71, Kenneth Ferrie (ENG) 65-66-70-66, Bradley Dredge (WAL) 67-70-68-62
268 - Darren Clarke (NIR) 72-64-64-68, Y.E. Yang (KOR) 68-67-69-64
269 - Ben Leong (MAS) 68-68-66-67
Asian Tour GolfGreedy.com