He nearly lost his tour card. He nearly missed out on the Masters. He nearly didn’t play in the Houston Open. He nearly didn’t make the cut. From a winning position, he nearly failed to take the title.
But Ian Poulter, it seems, doesn’t do ‘nearly’.
Last weekend he took home the winner’s cheque for $1.2m and a last chance invitation to the Masters, which starts on Thursday, plus automatic qualification for a host of other championships.
Just a week ago, at the World Cup Championships Poulter had been told he had made the Masters. Then he was told there had been a miscalculation and he had not.
He packed his bags for Houston. Then, after a first round 123 placing, he nearly packed them again to go home. Nobody had ever won from such a lowly first round position.
He stayed on. And after rounds of 67 and 68 he found himself in the lead.
Pared with Beau Hossier, Poulter played well. But then he had to watch as his opponent sunk four birdies in a row to grab a one stroke lead – with three holes to play.
It stayed that way until the 18th. Poulter took two to get within 19 feet of the hole. Hossier to the same to lie a couple of feet further back.
Hossier had not won a PGA Tour event but showed no sign of nerves as he fired straight for the hole. He missed by less than an inch before tapping in for a regulation par four.
Poulter had to hole his putt to stay alive. Up over the ridge it went, and straight into the hole.
Poulter thumped his chest. Hossier smiled and shook his hand. It was now all down to a playoff.
The two returned to the 18th tee.
Poulter carried the water to land in the light rough. Hossier landed in a bunker. From the sand he hit more sand, and then the water. It was all over.
Hossier took two more to hole, leaving Poulter finished with a no-fuss par.
It was his first stroke-play tournament victory on US soil.
After wards he paid tribute to his wife for supporting and encouraging him on through injury and disappointment.
‘It’s been difficult’, he said.
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