England’s Ian Poulter came from four shots off the pace on Sunday to set a tournament record and win the World Golf Championships HSBC Champions in Shenzhen, China. Poulter fired a final round seven-under-par 65 to set the new tournament low of 267 (21-under). Americans Jason Dufner, Scott Piercy and Phil Mickelson joined 2012 Open Champion Ernie Els two shots back tied for second. Co 54-hole leaders Louis Oosthuizen and Lee Westwood finished 18-under in a tie for sixth. Poulter becomes the first Englishman to win multiple WGC championships as he adds this title to his 2010 WGC-Match Play title.
Ian Poulter didn’t win the tournament on Thursday and Friday, but he didn’t shoot himself out of it either. With Louis Oosthuizen laying waste to the field at 16-under after two rounds, Poulter was nine shots behind but saw that low rounds were certainly out there on the weekend. And what a weekend he had. Poulter began his comeback on Saturday with five birdies, an eagle and zero bogeys on the Olazabal Course to reach 14-under but was still four shots off the pace set by Oosthuizen and Lee Westwood after his Saturday 61. Poulter rallied from four back to catch and pass those lads with eight birdies and only one bogey on Sunday to win by two. Poulter added some drama down the stretch as he made bogey on No. 17 and had to get up-and-down on 18 for par to post another 65 for the clubhouse lead and the eventual victory.
Poulter was on everybody’s list this week as he was one of the few players to have played this course multiple times during the Omega Mission Hills World Championships. In his three events here him and his partner finished T4 (2007), T6 (2008) and T4 (2009) so it was obvious that he likes the track and he plays it well. He also didn’t hurt himself by finishing fourth last week in Shanghai.
Poulter’s excellent 2012 wraps up with his second TOUR victory and second WGC victory. He joins Tiger Woods (16), Geoff Ogilvy (3), Darren Clarke (2), Phil Mickelson (2), Ernie Els (2) and Hunter Mahan (2) with multiple WGC victories. Poulter also had a great year in the majors as he finished solo seventh at Augusta, T41 at the U.S. Open, T9 at The Open Championship and T3 at the PGA Championship. You like Poulter in fantasy golf because he makes tons of cuts and plays in the big-money events. You don’t like Poulter in season-long fantasy leagues because he rarely plays more than 17 events (18 in 2007). This was his second victory on TOUR.
Déjà vu All Over Again?
In 45 stroke play tournaments, the 54-hole leaders have failed to lift the trophy 30 times in 2012 as Oosthuizen (again) and Westwood adds their names to this massive list. Those boys had a four-shot lead over Poulter entering the final round and both of them shot even par 72 on Sunday.
Poulter becomes the seventh different winner of the HSBC Champions event. Only Phil Mickelson has won this event twice.
Americans now have registered 33 victories in 45 events. Sadly, this list does NOT include the Ryder Cup, and Poulter was the chief villain in making that happen, going 4-0-0 on the week.
Rory McIlroy (4), Tiger Woods (3), Zach Johnson (2), Jason Dufner (2), Hunter Mahan (2) and Brandt Snedeker (2) and now Nick Watney (2) are the multiple-winners on TOUR in 2012.
Ian Poulter joins the list as the only foreign-born players winners in 2012. Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy (Honda, PGA, DBC and BMW), Englishmen Justin Rose (WGC-CC) and Luke Donald (Transitions), Swedes Carl Pettersson (RBC Heritage), Jonas Blixt (Frys.com), Australia’s Marc Leishman (the Travelers), South African Ernie Els (The Open) and Spain’s Sergio Garcia (Wyndham) are the winners this year.
Poulter collects $1,200,000 for his second-career TOUR victory.
“Young” Guns versus “Middle” Guns versus “Old” Guns
In 46 events on TOUR in 2012 the “Young” guns have it all locked up at the top as they now lead 25-18-3. The 37-year old Poulter makes the list for the first time since 2010.
For the “Young”, age during their victory in ( ), Johnson Wagner (31), Brandt Snedeker TWICE (31), Kyle Stanley (24), Bill Haas (29), John Huh (21), Hunter Mahan TWICE (29) Rory McIlroy FOUR times (22), Justin Rose (31), Rickie Fowler (23), Dustin Johnson (27), Webb Simpson (26), Marc Leishman (29), Ted Potter, Jr. (28), Scott Stallings (27), Keegan Bradley (26), Sergio Garcia (32), Nick Watney TWICE (31),Ryan Moore (29) and Jonas Blixt (28) are your winners.
The “Middle” guys are Mark Wilson (37), George McNeill (36), Luke Donald (34), Tiger Woods THRICE (36), Bubba Watson (33), Carl Pettersson (34), Ben Curtis (34), Matt Kuchar (33), Jason Dufner TWICE (35), Zach Johnson TWICE (36), Scott Piercy (33) J.J. Henry (37), Tommy Gainey (37) and now Ian Poulter (37) have been victorious.
Steve Stricker (44), Phil Mickelson (41) and Ernie Els (42) are the only “Old” guys to hit the board in 2012. At least 33% of their wins are majors! Els gave it shot this week!
Jason Dufner: In his three events in the Far East, Dufner proved that his game could travel as he finished second, T16 and T2 in consecutive weeks. He only made five bogeys this week and was T2 in birdies with 26 and that’s a great recipe for a resort course. Dufner fired 64, the low round of the day, to move up the leaderboard last Saturday and used another 64 to move up 11 places into a tie for second. In 2012, he’s won twice and been second twice and has nine total top 10’s. Luh. Jit.
Scott Piercy: After firing 64-62 to close out last week at the CIMB it was great to see him keep up the solid play again this week. Three 68’s to open were backed up by his best round of the week, 65, on Sunday to see him grab a share of second as well. This is his third consecutive event in the top 10 for Piercy as he was T6 (Timberlake), T10 (CIMB) and T2 this week. All of his best finishes this season are double-digits under par so he has no problem on courses where you have to go low and make birdies and eagles.
Ernie Els: He destroyed the front nine this week (-18) but only could play the back in one-under. He made 21 birdies and an eagle against two bogeys and a double so I will conclude that the Big Easy is happy where his game is at right now even though this was his first top 10 since his win at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. As long as his ball-striking continues, I don’t see why he wouldn’t be a factor in 2013.
Phil Mickelson: He made birdie or better on 13 of 16 par five holes this week and he also led the field with three eagles. Seems like the change of course didn’t bother him too much as now he has two wins and T2 in this event. He’s an automatic for this event. In his last four events, Mickelson has finished T4, T2, T15 and T2 this week. That’s more “Phil-like”.
Louis Oosthuizen: This week summed up his 2012 in a nutshell: Get out to a lead and fail to convert on Sunday. He was the 54-hole leader in Houston, Akron and Boston and each time failed to close out the deal. Oosthuizen loves playing in the Far East though as was evidenced by his win in Malaysia after being defeated in the playoff at the Masters by Bubba Watson. The good news for Oosthuizen is he’s won twice world-wide in 2012 and has been in the hunt plenty of times. If he cleans up his final round scoring, he could easily add to those victories. In two events in China, he finished T6 and T6.
Lee Westwood: Like Poulter, Westwood found himself at seven-under and nine shots behind Oosthuizen after two rounds. He made his move by firing in ELEVEN birdies in a bogey-free 61 on Saturday to tie Oosthuizen for the 54-hole lead. As is usually the case after a super-low round, Westwood shot just even par on Sunday but his 26th birdie of the week on the 72nd hole vaulted him into a T6 position on the final leaderboard. He showed his mettle in the Far East with T14 last week in Shanghai and T6 this week after finishing DFL at The TOUR Championship and having less than a stellar showing at the Ryder Cup.
Adam Scott: In his first start since The TOUR Championship, Scott, to my surprise, got off to a blazing start with six birdies and an eagle against one birdie for 65 and a tie of the lead. He finished with a very solid 67 on Sunday to hit the top 10 for the third time in his last four outings. He’s an elite player and he proves it again this week with his solo eighth place finish.
Martin Kaymer: He also played here in all three of the Omega World Championships from 2007-2009 so moving the defending champion to this course looked to be an advantage. And it was. Kaymer made 27 birdies on the week to lead the field but a triple-bogey six on No. 17 knocked him out of a T2. Kaymer was T11 last week in Shanghai and it looks like his game is rounding back into shape.
Bill Haas: When you “only” make 18 birdies, you have to find other ways to keep yourself in the tournament and that’s what Haas did this week to finish 10th. He led the field in pars made and only carded three bogeys for the week. This is Haas’s second top 10 finish in his last six events, by far his best stretch of golf in 2012 since the end of January.
“Hey, what ever happened to…”
Nick Watney: Last week, he shot 61 on Sunday to come from behind and win the CIMB. This week, he shot 62 on Sunday to move up 24 spots to T16. His 72-72 start was too much to overcome.
Bubba Watson: His 75 on Sunday dropped him to 33rd for his worst finish of 2012 in 16 events where he made the cut. He missed three cuts in 19 events. And he won the Masters. That’s a pretty good year! #urwelcome.
Luke Donald: He sat in 13th heading into Sunday but after a back nine 37, he slipped to T18. On courses where the winning score is going to be in the 20’s, 71 on Sunday isn’t going to help. Another solid week for Donald, but not as high a finish you would expect.
Coming Tuesday: The CMNHC preview and Golf Channel Fantasy Picks