Poulter keeps his counsel after Hong Kong win

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The Independent Online

Ian Poulter has his sights set on climbing further up the world rankings after his UBS Hong Kong Open victory yesterday, but stopped short of staking his claim for the No 1 spot. The 34-year-old shot a three-under-par 67 in the final round to finish a stroke ahead of compatriot Simon Dyson and Italian teenager Matteo Manassero.

Despite enjoying one of his best seasons to date, in which he won the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and played a pivotal role in Europe's Ryder Cup triumph, Poulter has dropped down the rankings and by the time he arrived in Hong Kong he was 14th in the world. However, he was in impressive form throughout the tournament – with a fine 10-under 60 in the second round the highlight – and deserved a victory that restores him to the world top 10.

Poulter is confident he can now climb higher, but after causing a stir among his fellow pros two years ago by insisting he was the only serious challenger to then No 1 Tiger Woods when at his best, he was this time keeping his cards very close to his chest.

"I'll try and win next week first [at the Dubai World Championship]," he said. "I'm not playing the game saying, 'I'm going to get to No 1'. I tried that once before and it didn't work. I think I'll just try winning next week and see how high I can go. Tiger has dropped a lot of points and [Lee] Westwood is world No 1 but if I keep playing well, then who knows? I could get up there."

Victory never really looked in doubt for Poulter, who had been consistently impressive since firing his second-round 60, and expected challenges from the likes of Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy failed to materialise.

"To be honest, I felt comfortable all day," he added. "I felt very calm and very relaxed. The way I was hitting it, I was hitting it inside 12 feet pretty much nearly every hole out there. I knew if I kept doing that, I'd be very tough to beat."

Dyson was Poulter's only real challenger after reeling off an eagle three on the par-five third before adding three birdies over his next four holes to put himself within touching distance. But he failed to build on that as he bogeyed the eighth and added just one more birdie to finish with a five-under 65.

US Open champion McDowell had started the day two strokes behind Poulter but his challenge for the title never really materialised as the Northern Irishman finished with a two-under 68 to take fifth place. A victory for McDowell would have been the perfect tonic ahead of the Dubai World Championship, where he hopes to be crowned Europe's No 1.

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