Poulter proves that clothes can make man
MARANA, Ariz. — The trophy Ian Poulter is taking home from the Match Play Championship is called the "Walter Hagen Cup."
For his first victory on American soil, perhaps that's only fitting.
Hagen, among golf's greatest players with 11 majors, was regarded as much for his snappy attire as his record four straight PGA Championships when they were match play.
The Haig would have liked this spunky Englishman.
Dressed in pink on a chilly day in the high desert, Poulter put on a short-game clinic yesterday and led over the final 28 holes on his way to a 4-and-2 victory over Paul Casey in an all-England final at the first World Golf Championship of the year.
With his ninth career victory, and by far the biggest, Poulter moved to a personal-best No. 5 in the world ranking.
"I've had an interesting ride from a lot of people's point of view of how I present myself on the golf course, as opposed to how well I can actually perform," Poulter said. "This to me is very pleasing to be able to be in that position now. I guess (No.) 5 in the world stands for more than just what I wear on the golf course."
Poulter seized control in the morning session with two solid chips for birdies, then effectively closed out Casey with a deft pitch up the slope — with mud on his ball, no less — that settled inches away for one last birdie.
"It's been a long time coming," Poulter said after closing out Casey with a par on the 34th hole. "I knew I was in great form. I felt comfortable all day on the golf course."
Casey struggled at times with his swing in falling behind, and his short game wasn't good enough to allow him to catch up. He became the first player to lose consecutive years in the championship match.
"Poulter played great," Casey said. "There were a lot of shots which I wanted to pull off and I didn't. He did a fantastic job of making putts and keeping the ball in play, and he kept the pressure on. And I got beaten."
Poulter played only 114 holes all week — only Tiger Woods with 112 holes in 2003 played fewer — and earned $1.4 million for the biggest check of his career.
Known mostly for what's in his closet, Poulter quickly is gaining a strong reputation for his prowess in match play. He improved his overall record in the Match Play Championship to 18-7, and was so dominant he trailed for only one hole over the final 50 holes of the tournament.
"I would say my short game, certainly this week, has been as good as it's ever been," Poulter said.
Mayakoba Classic: Cameron Beckman won his third PGA Tour title, closing with a 3-under 67 for a two-stroke victory over third-round leader Joe Durant (72) and Brian Stuard (66) at Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. Beckman finished at 15-under 269.
Beckman bogeyed the sixth, got the stroke back with a birdie on the par-5 eighth and added birdies on 13 and 17 before closing with a par to pocket $648,000.
Hawai'i's Dean Wilson shot 71—279 to tie for 28th and win $22,440.
Allianz Championship: Bernhard Langer made eagle from the bunker on the first playoff hole to beat John Cook and win the Champions Tour event at Boca Raton, Fla.
Langer, who won $255,500, and Cook were tied at 17-under 199 when they headed to a sudden death playoff on No. 18. Cook missed an eagle chance when his putt rolled past the hole.
LPGA Thailand: Ai Miyazato rallied to win the season-opening event, holing a birdie chip on the final hole for a 9-under 63 and a one-stroke victory over Suzann Pettersen (70) at Pattaya, Thailand.
Miyazato, six strokes behind Pettersen after the third round, was 6 under in a six-hole stretch midway through the round to match the tournament record of 21 under set by Pettersen in 2007, and win $195,000.
Honolulu's Michelle Wie closed with a 69 to tie for 22nd at 5 under and earn $13,934.