Poulter rides Ryder momentum, wins WGC-HSBC

By Associated PressNovember 4, 2012, 3:03 pm

SHENZHEN, China – Ian Poulter showed he can be a star even when playing only for himself.

One month after leading an improbable European rally in the Ryder Cup, Poulter won for the first time this year. He closed with a 7-under 65 Sunday to come from four shots behind and win the HSBC Champions for his second career World Golf Championships title.

It won't overshadow what he did at Medinah in the Ryder Cup -– five straight birdies to pick up a crucial point in fourballs and winning his singles match to complete a 4-0 week. Even so, it was important to the Englishman that the year not pass without a victory of his own.


Mosier: Poulter relishes another trophy


'I've only been one season without a victory and I certainly didn't want to go another one,' Poulter said after his two-shot win at Mission Hills. 'As well as I've played this year, it would have been a disappointment personally to have gone that year without winning.'

Phil Mickelson (68), Jason Dufner (64), Scott Piercy (65) and Ernie Els (67) tied for second. Lee Westwood and Louis Oosthuizen shared the 54-hole lead, but each shot a 72 in the final round to tie for sixth.

Poulter won for the first time since the World Match Play Championship in Spain in 2011. His other WGC title came in 2010 in Arizona at the Match Play Championship. Turns out he can also get it done in stroke play.

On a day when five players had at least a share of the lead at some point – and several others were close – it was the charismatic Poulter who was the steadiest. Starting the day four shots behind, he surged into the lead with four birdies on the front nine and two more after making the turn.

Mickelson and Els tried to stay close, but both wasted opportunities to pull even. Mickelson missed a 5-foot par putt on No. 12, while Els dropped a shot on the 14th when his 3-foot par putt caught the lip. He narrowly missed a birdie putt on the final hole.

'I know where I came up short,' Els said. 'But other than that, I played it really nice and struck it nice. Almost made him think there on 18; that putt almost went in.'

Defending champion Martin Kaymer looked set to make a final-day comeback for the second straight year. Last year, the German birdied nine of his last 12 holes to rally from five shots down in the final round for an unlikely three-stroke victory. He started six shots behind on Sunday and picked up five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine until a triple bogey on the 17th.

Poulter, meanwhile, sank a 5-foot putt on the 14th hole for birdie and a two-stroke lead. Then, after setting himself up with a 20-foot putt on the tricky 15th hole, he lined up the shot perfectly and dropped it for birdie.

He was so composed that he didn't even mind the cameras and cellphones in the gallery. He's even tried some Chinese to quiet the crowd this week.

'I'm not sure what I'm saying. I'm trying to say `no telephones,'' he said with a laugh. 'I backed away a number of times, but I was able to refocus knowing that there's probably going to be a few photos taken during the swing.'

With Mickelson still in position to catch him, Poulter hit a difficult bunker shot on the 18th to 10 feet and holed the putt to seal the win.

'I saw what he was doing. I was aware,' Mickelson said. 'So I tried to carve a few shots in to some of the pins and wasn't able to get close enough to them to make birdies to catch him.'

It was another Englishman who started the day in front, playing the best golf of anyone in the field. Westwood putted brilliantly Saturday, making 11 birdies to shoot a 61, one of the lowest rounds of his career. Westwood jumped to a three-stroke advantage Sunday after making two birdies on the front nine. But that's when his putting began to break down.

On the par-3 No. 5, he three-putted for a double bogey. He then missed putts within 10 feet on three consecutive holes before completely unraveling on the back nine with three bogeys, including one on the 15th when he hit a chip shot into a group of photographers.

Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion, was unable to regain the form that saw him reach 16 under after two rounds – the lowest 36-hole score to par in a World Golf Championship event since the series began in 1999. He struggled with his putting for a second consecutive day and had four bogeys.

With the $1.2 million winner's paycheck, Poulter moves up to fourth spot in the European Tour's Race to Dubai. The money will also come in handy considering he just treated himself to a new car.

'I've already spent the check last week,' he said. 'Yes, it was a vehicle and yes, it was very expensive.'

Poulter moved up to a No. 15 ranking, one spot better than where he started the season.

Brandt Snedeker followed his career-best 60 in the third round with a 71 and was never a factor. The bigger turnaround belonged to Dustin Johnson, who was 18 shots better than his third-round score. Johnson followed his 84 Saturday by closing with a 66.

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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.