Poulter holds off Dyson, Manassero
Ian Poulter held his nerve to capture his second victory this year with a solid, final-round 67 at the the UBS Hong Kong Open.
Ian Poulter held his nerve to capture his second victory this year with a solid, final-round 67 at the the UBS Hong Kong Open on Sunday.
The Englishman bogeyed the last, but had enough in reserve to beat compatriot Simon Dyson and Italian 17-year-old Matteo Manassero by a shot.
The 34-year-old did not recreate the fireworks of rounds two and three, but kept his cool in the face of twin, closing round charges by Manassero and Dyson to win with an impressive 22-under par total.
Poulter dropped his first shot of the tournament at the third hole, but quickly dismissed any signs of a collapse by picking up three birdies before the turn.
An eagle at the 13th then gave the WGC-World Match Play winner some breathing space and he could even afford to bogey the final hole after finding the bunker.
It was the 10th European Tour victory of Poulter’s career and moved him up to 11th from 14th in the world rankings as well as increasing his Race to Dubai earnings to £1.7 million – his highest ever.
“Today was pretty faultless golf. After hitting a poor four-iron on the third (and) making bogey, I think I pretty much had a birdie putt on every other hole,” he told Sky Sports in a TV interview after the win.
“Putts from eight feet which kept looking like they were going to go in but didn’t. But – you know what – make five up the last, get the job done and it’s a good victory.”
Manassero charged up the leaderboard on the final day as he carded a superb round of 62 to finish in a tie for second with Dyson on 21 under.
The Italian teenager carded six birdies and an eagle, while Dyson went round in 65, although he could not mount a sustained challenge for victory after reaching the turn in 30.
Although hje admitted to lacking some of the sparkle oh his earlier rounds, Poulter was buoyed by the fact that he had managed to shrug away the disappointing couple of weeks he experienced coming into this event.
He simply wasn’t able to clinch the HSBC Champions in Shanghai and the Singapore Open, having put himself in positions to contend for victory at both events and he was delighted to finally see his hard work on the course rewarded as it was earlier in the year when he won the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in the US.
“It feels more than good,” said Poulter.
“I’ll be honest, the last two weeks I have been really disappointed.
“In Shanghai I was fourth with six holes to play while last week (in Singapore) I was in position to win again but didn’t do it.
“Today I have hit as many good shots as I have in a long time. I felt calm all day and I thought if I kept going round and doing my business I would make enough birdie putts to win.”
Dyson, meanwhile, had mounted a strong Sunday challenge, having started with an eagle on the third before picking up three birdies over his next four holes.
The Yorkshireman bogeyed the eighth before finding birdie putts hard to come by coming home and he picked up just one more shot on the 15th to finish with a third successive 65.
“I’m disappointed. I played lovely today. I just didn’t hole a thing on the back nine,” said Dyson.
“Still, it has been a great week. It’s good to take this form into the last tournament of the year.”
Manassero – the youngest winner on the European Tour – charged up the leaderboard after carding an eight-under 62 to finish alongside Dyson, while Anthony Kang took fourth after the American shot a five-under 65.
Graeme McDowell’s challenge for the title never really materialised as the Northern Irishman finished with a two-under 68 to take fifth place.
The US Open champion was undone by two bogeys in his first three holes and though he recovered on the back nine with four birdies, it was too late to threaten playing partner Poulter.
McDowell now switches his focus to the Dubai World Championship next week where he hopes to be crowned Europe’s number one ahead of current Race to Dubai leader Martin Kaymer.
“I had a slow start, and I was chasing from there really. I played great the rest of the day,” he said.
“But it was another great week, I have to say, I’m taking some great form into Dubai next week and that’s the key really.”
Rory McIlroy had narrowly missed out on victory at the Hong Kong Golf Club in the last two years and though he started well this time he was never really in the hunt as the final round progressed.
The 21-year-old bogeyed the first and though he recovered with four birdies over his next 12 holes, another dropped shot on the par-four 14th left him with plenty to do in his remaining holes.
McIlroy birdied the 16th before making par on the last two holes to finish on three-under 67, four shots behind Poulter in sixth.
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