Poulter announces return to best form with confident win

Click to follow
The Independent Online

In the Ian Poulter masterplan, winning the Wales Open by three shots and collecting a mere £250,000 probably did not feature too heavily.

By rights, the talent that this ultra-confident 27-year-old just knows he possesses merited him spending a week off preparing for the US Open in a fortnight's time, rather like Justin Rose who was in the crowd here yesterday to watch his best friend win his fourth Tour title.

Alas, in the last year as Rose's garden has bloomed, Poulter's has grown over somewhat, so much so that he never got near qualifying for Chicago and came here to join a mediocre field on the back of missing five of his last six cuts.

He suffered all week with tonsillitis, too, but seeds of recovery have rarely been so richly sown as Poulter eased clear of Jarrod Moseley, Darren Fichardt and Jonathan Lomas with a round of 70 to finish 18-under and move from 135th to the top 15 in the European Order of Merit. There are quantum physicists who would blush at such a leap.

Not that you will ever find this Milton Keynes golfer with a red face after doing something so expected as winning. Red streaks in his hair, yes, and this Arsenal fan's gleaming Ferrari - parked directly outside the clubhouse with the number plate "I4N P" (the "4" has been made to look like an "A") - shows how highly he rates himself. And after 72 holes of superlative golf, and four rounds in which he was never once headed, it is easy to see why.

There were moments yesterday when self-doubt could have crept in, as they easily could have during Saturday's third-round when, at one stage, he watched a six-shot lead shrink to one. But Moseley's march to stand one shot off Poulter with one hole to go was tripped up when he bogeyed the last.

On that final tee the Australian was probably thinking of birdie to catch Poulter, but in the cruel light of hindsight he will see that a par would have earned him outright second place and £55,000 more. Instead the 31-year-old picked up a cheque for around £111,000, together with South Africa's Darren Fichardt and Jonathan Lomas, the Ayrshire-based Englishman.

There were highly notable paydays also for Scotland's Andrew Coltart and Zimbabwe's Mark McNulty in joint fifth on 13 under. None were as notable as Poulter's, however, who seemed happy to say "I'm back" to anyone who doubted his ability to hack it with Europe's so-called "young guns". "When you go through a bad spell people tend to forget about you," he said. "The bookies had probably priced me at about 100-1, but my game has been coming back recently so it wasn't the worst bet."

Indeed, the work Poulter has been putting in with David Leadbetter has borne profit quicker than expected. Two shots clear of Phillip Price overnight, a birdie four at the second gave him a little more daylight, but it was on the 11th, as Moseley crept up as ominously as the rain clouds, that Poulter felt he won the tournament. A 300-yard drive "busted" down the right of the fairway left him 250 yards to the flag. A three-iron then found the green before a 50-foot putt gave him the first eagle on that hole in the tournament and he was three clear. Bogeys on the 14th and 15th delayed the party but then Moseley fell back and a birdie at the last ensured his triumph.

"I feel on top of the world," Poulter said, "even though I've a very sore throat." Not as sore as Price's wounded pride, however; his trumpeted charge as the hope of Wales never materialised. In fact it dematerialised when five bogeys in nine holes from the sixth saw him moving backwards quicker than your average Welsh scrum. What Price would have paid for the three holes that the Yorkshireman Ian Garbutt conjured from the 13th to the 15th. "Two, two, two" is not a bad formation to rattle up on a pitch-and-putt, but here those holes measure 395 yards, 184 yards and 456 yards. But the 31-year-old from Doncaster still only managed to scrape inside the top 50. Five under for three holes, three over for the other 69 - this game is truly a marathon not a sprint.

* Colin Montgomerie has changed his mind and accepted a late invitation to play in the British Masters at the Forest of Arden. Montgomerie had planned to miss the event, which he won in 1998, to prepare for the following week's US Open.

LEADING FINAL SCORES FROM CELTIC MANOR (GB or Irl unless stated)

270 I Poulter 65 67 68 70.

273 D Fichardt (SA) 68 67 70 68; J Lomas 66 71 68 68; J Moseley (Aus) 74 67 63 69.

275 M McNulty (Zim) 69 67 69 70; A Coltart 68 69 67 71.

276 S Luna (Sp) 68 69 70 69; P Fowler (Aus) 67 72 68 69; P Price 68 66 68 74.

278 I Pyman 73 67 68 70; J Sandelin (Swe) 67 73 68 70; J Donaldson 68 71 68 71; B Dredge 71 69 67 71; F Jacobson (Swe) 71 68 64 75.

279 R Green (Aus) 67 70 72 70; J-F Remesy (Fr) 68 72 69 70; R Chapman 74 68 67 70.

280 T Price (Aus) 71 71 68 70; Peter Lawrie 68 75 67 70; C Cevaer (Fr) 71 72 65 72.

281 A Atwal (India) 75 68 72 66; G McDowell 70 72 72 67; D Drysdale 68 70 73 70; S Gallacher 70 72 69 70; B Lane 69 71 66 75.

282 P Broadhurst 72 70 72 68; S Dodd 70 71 71 70; S Struver (Ger) 68 72 71 71; S Webster 70 70 69 73; N O'Hern (Aus) 65 72 70 75.

283 N Dougherty 72 70 72 69; A Tadini (It) 69 70 73 71; G Owen 74 68 70 71; D Borrego (Sp) 71 72 69 71; D Howell 70 69 71 73; P Golding 72 69 69 73; P Sjoland (Swe) 72 69 69 73.

284 C Rodiles (Sp) 69 70 76 70; M Maritz (SA) 74 68 70 72; M Mackenzie 67 73 70 74.

285 D Park 70 72 74 69; A Forsyth 67 73 75 70; R Rock 70 71 73 71; A Wall 72 70 72 71; J Clement (Swit) 71 72 70 72; E Canonica (It) 71 70 70 74; J-F Lucquin (Fr) 69 74 68 74.

286 I Garbutt 72 71 77 66; M Farry (Fr) 73 70 73 70; G Havret (Fr) 68 73 74 71; B Austin 68 74 73 71; M Lafeber (Neth) 72 70 73 71; J Van Hauwe (Fr) 68 75 72 71; S Wakefield 69 71 72 74; S Scahill (NZ) 71 69 72 74; R Bland 72 69 71 74; M Olander (Swe) 74 67 70 75; R Gonzalez (Arg) 67 71 72 76.

287 S Lyle 70 70 76 71; P Baker 74 69 73 71; D Dixon 72 69 74 72; K Eriksson (Swe) 68 72 74 73; A Hansen (Den) 73 70 71 73; J M Arruti (Sp) 68 69 76 74; F Orest (Swe) 70 73 70 74.

Comments