Poulter Prevails

February 21, 2010

Poulter led for the final 28 holes Sunday.

MARANA, Ariz. (AP) -- Ian Poulter now has something more stylish that anything in his wardrobe.

Dressed in pink on a chilly day in the desert, Poulter captured the biggest victory of his career Sunday by leading the final 28 holes and beating Paul Casey, 4 and 2, in the all-England final at the Match Play Championship.

Along winning his first World Golf Championship, the 34-year-old Poulter won for the first time on American soil.

"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 made sure Poulter didn't work up too much of a sweat. He struggled at times with his swing in falling behind, and his short game wasn't good enough to allow him to catch up.

Casey became the first player to lose consecutive years in the championship match.

Poulter won for the ninth time on the European Tour and moved to a career-best No. 5 in the world ranking. He earned $1.4 million, the biggest prize 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 on the weekend that he trailed for only one hole over the final 50 holes of the tournament.

That came early Sunday morning, when Casey stuffed his approached to 7 feet on the second hole for an eagle that was conceded. Poulter answered immediately with a tee shot into 8 feet on the third, then took the lead for good at No. 7 when Casey went long and took two chips to reach the green, making bogey.

Casey, who earned $850,000 for his runner-up finish, had the momentum at lunch after winning two of the last four holes to cut Poulter's lead in half to 2 up at the midway point. That didn't last long, however, for Poulter opened the afternoon session by winning two straight holes with birdies to restore his lead to 4 up.

Casey tried to make one more charge, winning the ninth hole with a par and the 10th with a 15-foot birdie. Poulter had a 2-up lead with eight holes remaining, momentum on Casey's side.

But Casey couldn't make up any ground on the par 5s, and Poulter seized control for good on the 307-yard 15th, where both players drove to the right of the green. Poulter nearly holed his chip for eagle, while Casey pitched just onto the green, and his birdie putt to halve the hole caught the lip.

Casey had to return early Sunday morning just to reach the final.

Resuming his semifinal match that had been suspended by darkness, Casey won with a par after Camilo Villegas hooked his tee shot into the desert. Casey won in 24 holes, the longest match of the week.

Villegas had no trouble against Sergio Garcia in the consolation match, winning 5 and 4.