Poulter edges out Donald

Ian Poulter bested his fellow countryman Luke Donald 2&1 in the final of the Volvo World Match Play Championship on Sunday.

Ian Poulter bested his fellow countryman Luke Donald 2&1 in the final of the Volvo World Match Play Championship on Sunday.

For Donald, it was another case of so close, but no cigar. One month ago, he narrowly missed out on taking over the top spot in the world rankings after losing in a play-off in The Heritage against Brandt Snedeker. And at the Finca Cortesin Golf Course in Andulucia on Sunday, he again missed out on the achievement after succumbing to Ian Poulter in the final.

Donald stays second behind Lee Westwood, and was left frustrated once again.

“It was disappointing – I ran out of steam a bit and didn’t take the opportunities I had.”

Poulter, meanwhile, was over the moon, and got to celebrate his son Luke’s seventh birthday in the best way possible.

“Happy birthday Luke,” said Poulter. “I thought it would be pretty special to win this today.

“I finally started holing some putts. I’ve been frustrated for a few months and you have to hole putts to win.”

The first all-English final since the event began at Wentworth in 1964 was a gritty affair, with Poulter coming back from deficits on three seperate occasions in the match to get things back to level-pegging. The last time came at the par-three 12th, where Poulter holed a 40-foot birdie putt to win the hole.

He never trailed again, and took a lead he wouldn’t again surrender on the 14th. Donald missed a three-footer for birdie that would have given him the 15th, allowing Poulter to go two-up with only three to play after a great apporach led to a birdie on 16. The next hole was halved, and Donald’s shot at the title and leading the rankings was over.

It was a day that had started much better for him, as he faced the tough challenge of Martin Kaymer, who himself was hunting the No 1 ranking, in his semifinal. The match was a repeat of the Accenture Match Play final in Arizona, and just like that day in Tucson, it was Donald who came out on top – and even more convincingly than before.

Donald went one-up on the second hole and never looked back, eventually cruising through 5&3. By the 10th hole, one that Kaymer double-bogeyed, he had gone four-up, and the match was all but over. Kaymer eventually conceded on the 15th.

“He played like a machine a little bit,” said Kaymer. “It was unbelievable – he hits the fairways, all the greens and he makes the putts.

“It was like a PlayStation. I thought there’s maybe a little bit of a chance, but I just didn’t see it.

“He never really opens the door for you and it felt a little bit impossible. He really deserves to become the number one.”

In the other semifinal, Poulter saw off the challenge of Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts, who held the advantage for much of the match. But a three-putt on 15 and an errant drive on 16 allowed Poulter to draw level. Both players managed birdies on the last two holes to take the game to the 19th, where a fluffed chip from Colsaerts handed Poulter the match.

“I just kind of hung in there and you just need a bit of momentum,” said Poulter, whose matches this week all went to the final hole or more.

“I think experience was crucial. Nicolas had the upper hand with length (he was the Tour’s biggest hitter last season) and I just had to trust my short game.”

Donald, meanwhile, will have another oportunity to challenge for world No 1 ranking at Wentworth next week, where he’ll square off against the current holder, Lee Westwood.