With win at HSBC, Poulter shows he's ready for big 2013

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November 04, 2012
Lewine Mair, Special to PGATOUR.COM
Ian Poulter made only one bogey over the weekend at Mission Hills.

SHENZHEN, China -- Ian Poulter was at his Ryder Cup best on Sunday in China, as he handed in a closing 65 to come from four back to win the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions. Phil Mickelson was for long giving the most effective chase, but Europe's Ryder Cup hero was not about to let an American back into the picture.

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Though he dropped a shot at the short 17th, he twice got up and down from sand over the last four holes to hang fast to his momentum. "The putt at the 15th was huge," said Poulter of the 20-footer, he canned for a birdie.

He could have done with giving his greenside bunker shot a little more at the 18th but, here again, he rolled home a tester of a putt -- this time a ten-footer -- which fully deserved his trademark fist-pump. He had finished with a 21-under-par tally, which left him two clear of Mickelson, Jason Dufner, Scott Piercy and Ernie Els.

"I've been confident with my putter all year," said Poulter, who went on to explain how he and his team had talked long and hard about how he could bring his match-play instincts to bear in stroke play. "We decided I had to be fresh for each week, know the course inside out and go out there and be aggressive."

This is Poulter's second World Golf Championship title and one which he recognises could serve as a stepping-stone to his first major.

It is also his fourth consecutive year with a victory, though he is the first to admit that he left this one a little late.

Earlier this week, when he was asked if his heroics in the Ryder Cup -- he contributed four points to the European cause -- were enough in themselves to keep him happy, he answered in the affirmative before adding the rider, "It's on a personal level that I feel I need to get out there and win a golf tournament. I think that I've certainly played well enough so I'm going to put some pressure on myself over the last five events to make sure I get a victory."

There were times when Poulter had to exhort the crowd to desist from using their mobile phones and cameras over the weekend, but he never got too uptight about the situation.

"I thought I was saying 'No cameras please' in Chinese but, to be honest, I wasn't sure what I was saying. I think I made them laugh more than anything."

One way and another, it mirrored what happened at Medinah where Davis Love, the U.S. captain, at one point observed, "I saw Ian on a hole where they were giving him a hard time about something and he enjoyed it. I think that's what makes him a great player."

Poulter is the best of role models for golf in Asia, where there are plenty of golfers who have not had everything handed to them on the proverbial plate. He could never afford to play as an amateur and instead spent several years selling Mars Bars in the professional's shop at Leighton Buzzard.

"I think I've shown that if someone's prepared to work and has the right mind-set, he can win tournaments," Poulter said.

He added that he is expecting great things of Chinese juniors and said a heartfelt "Wow" when he heard that the 14-year-old Guan Tianleng had won the Asia-Pacific Amateur in Bangkok and will be playing in the 2013 Masters.

"It's fantastic for Asia and fantastic for this region," said Poulter, who competed in the same China Open as the teenager earlier this year.

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