Superb Poulter back in the desert swing

Englishman shows Tucson form while Kaymer is favourite to win money title

Barring injury, disqualification or something miraculous, Europe will crown a new No 1 in Martin Kaymer here this evening. And from the look in Ian Poulter's eyes it will take something just as strange to deny him his second title in as many weeks.

It may be a different desert, but it has been the same mouth-watering fare from the Englishman. When winning the Accenture World Match Play in Tucson in February, Poulter strode around with that upright swagger of his knocking in five footers for fun and generally giving off the air of a professional certain of his Sunday destiny. Nine months on and the Dubai World Championship is his to lose. A two-shot lead sets him up for a return to the world's top 10 and the first back-to-back triumphs of his ever more rousing career.

Poulter does not do "losing" when he is the final-round pacesetter. Indeed, seven of his 10 wins have come when out in front after 54 holes; only once has he not converted the advantage. "That's not too shoddy a stat, is it?" he said after a 69 put him on 12-under, two clear of Ross Fisher, Francesco Molinari and Thongchai Jaidee. "Being a front-runner probably suits my personality."

Poulter smiled when admitting it, although stopped short of displaying the same kind of confidence which characterised his display on television before going out to take on Matt Kuchar in the singles at Celtic Manor. "I will win my point," he repeated over and over, before being true to his word with a 5&4 fist-pumper. "No I'm not going to say the same now," he said. "The Ryder Cup was matchplay, it was a 50-50. The odds are probably not as good here. But I am fairly confident and know that if I keep playing well, then I'm going to have a great chance to win."

If and when he picks up the £775,000 first prize, Poulter will have engineered a climax to match the beginnings of a startling season. "My game is as good as it's been – I'm playing as good as I did in Tucson," he said. "I'm swinging it good and if I want to hit a cut or a draw I can. If I put the ball in the fairway I'm going to be dangerous, especially if I hole a few putts. I'm back where I was. Why did I play poorly through the summer? Don't know to be honest. Obviously something distracted me."

Whatever it was essentially left him adrift in the money list race. Kaymer arrived here £250,000 ahead of Graeme McDowell, the only player capable of overhauling the German. McDowell has failed. However, this was a failure the Irishman was happy to accept following a year which saw him become the first European to lift the US Open title in 40 years as well as the hero of his continent at the Ryder Cup.

"Sometimes you've just got to wave the white flag," he said after a 69 took him to two-under, eight shots off from the third position he would at the very least require. "I tried my heart out and it just didn't happen. But I'll have a cold beer and look back on a great season."

McDowell, however, is also lookingforward and what he sees is exciting in the extreme. The 31-year-old has never been one for the grand statement, but now he finds it simply unavoidable. "What I've learnt this season is that I'm good enough," he said. "I know what room I have for improvement, but it was great to see that my best is good enough to compete. Two or three years ago theNo 1 player in the world seemed untouchable. But I believe if I work hard enough the next few years I could be the best player in the world."

Kaymer could reach that summit today, although a double-bogey seven at the 18th, after finding the water, made a double accession highly unlikely. To leapfrog Lee Westwood he needs to win as it is almost unfeasible that Westwood will not finish in the top 20. After a sloppy 71, the Englishman is on nine-under actually two clear of Kaymer. The latter's 73 left him targeting Tiger Woods' position instead. "No 1 in the world is not really a consideration," he said. "But if I play well and finish in the top five or top three I could still become No 2. I will play as aggressive as possible tomorrow as I have nothing to lose. It looks like I've won the Race to Dubai now and that was my goal coming here."

At 25, Kaymer will become the youngest winner of the Harry Vardon Trophy since Ronan Rafferty 21 years ago. Inevitably, he was keen to mention Seve Ballesteros, who topped the Order of Merit as a 19-year-old in 1976, when assessing his achievement. "Just to be on the same page is the biggest honour you can get," he said. "I've always dreamt about having a year like this. I played on a winning Ryder Cup team, I won a major and I won in St Andrews. Now I will win the Race to Dubai. I think there's not a lot left."

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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 saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss