Poulter underlines his major talent on England's day of days

New world no 5 sees off compatriot Paul Casey to win the Match Play Championship

Ian Poulter now has the title and the stature to go with the mouth and the trousers. In beating Paul Casey in the Accenture Match Play Championship final here yesterday, the record books opened for the new world No 5 who was once only famous for his outlandish claims and his outlandish dress sense.

Poulter became the first Englishman to win one of the four World Golf Championship events which only have the majors as their superiors. Seeing as none of his compatriots have lifted any of the big four since Nick Faldo in the 1996 Masters this can be seen as England's most prestigious victory in almost a decade and a half. And what made the experience all the more enjoyable for all of Poulter's countryfolk watching, was that with Casey as his opponent it was a win-win situation. Yes, England's glory was guaranteed.

"This feels very, very good," said Poulter after his 4&2 triumph in the 36-hole shootout. "I felt calm all day. Nerves did not even come into it."

Typically the 33-year-old chose to deck himself out all in pink for the most important day of his career. It is not Poulter's style to tiptoe unnoticed into the big-time. And why should he? To go with all the other firsts Poulter achieved at Dove Mountain, this happened to be his maiden victory in America. As he said: "It's been a long time coming. This was a special day for me and, with Paul there as well, a special day for English golf."

That much became certain when Casey returned to the course early yesterday morning and duly won his marathon semi-final with Camilo Villegas. The Colombian missed a three-footer on the fifth sudden-death hole the previous evening when the dark fell – and then on the resumption he bogeyed the 24th hole. Twenty minutes later Casey and Poulter were walking to the first tee together when a countryman stopped them and asked for whom he should root. "Ingerland!" shouted Poulter, with a smile.

It was a nice icebreaker. For they were not just playing for a bit of history and a lot of money (Poulter collected £900,000, Casey "just" £550,000); it decided who would wake up as No 5 and who would wake up as No 6. Whichever way it was to play out, the ranking list was certain to make pleasing reading in Britain this morning. With Lee Westwood in fourth it means there are three Englishmen in the top six. Not only is this an unprecedented concentration of quality in the 24 years since the rankings were introduced, but only the most mature of golfing fanatics will be old enough to remember any period when so many Britons were considered to be among the top of the elite. Back to the early decades of the 1900s perhaps?

The week began with Westwood bemoaning what he sees as British golf's lack of in comparison to the exposure received by the only British tennis player in the top 100. The ensuing action provided emphatic proof.

Obviously, there remains a glaring necessity for a major before the heralding of a golden era can be confidently screamed from the clubhouse rooftops. But at least Britain can now say without fear of hype "the next step truly is a major". Both of these last men standing – to quote the tournament's promotional bumf – are capable of taking the biggest step of all in the forthcoming months. Particularly as a certain world No 1 continues his indefinite break.

Casey went away as runner-up for the second time in as many years. However, he took away the consolation that the rib injury which blighted the second half of last year is almost recovered. He was not at his very best here yesterday and fatigue may have been slightly to blame. But he was not looking for excuses. "You will probably all write that Casey was rubbish," said the former world No 3. "But Ian played fantastically today."

Indeed, he did as his 12 birdies in the 34 holes signified. Poulter has taken so many strides in the desert. He already has enough Ryder Cup qualifying points to be virtually assured of making his third appearance for Europe at Celtic Manor in October. Regardless of their personal differences in the past, Colin Montgomerie will be so glad to have the 34-year-old in Newport.

There has never been any doubt about Poulter's competitive spirit. After all, he won in each of his first five seasons on Tour. But there was about the quality of his all-round game. No longer. Here his range of shots impressed almost as much as peerless putting. If his runner-up performances in the 2008 Open and the 2009 Players Championship confirmed Poulter's arrival on the big stage then this Championship has provided proof that he is capable of becoming one of his sport's main performers. "It was my goal to reach the top five this year," he revealed. "It's another box ticked. But there are more boxes left."

And to think they all laughed themselves silly two years ago when Poulter declared he would be world No 2. "I know I haven't played to my full potential yet," he said. "And, when that happens, it will just be me and Tiger."

Just Poults and Tiger. By the time the latter returns, the rankings might just hold that to be true.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
people
Voices
Nigel Farage arrives for a hustings event at The Oddfellows Hall in Ramsgate on Tuesday
voicesA defection that shows who has the most to fear from the rise of Ukip
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
Life and Style
Brave step: A live collection from Alexander McQueen whose internet show crashed because of high demand
fashionAs the collections start, Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution