English firebrand Ian Poulter will have another chance to break his Major naught in this week’s Masters at Augusta National after earning his 54th Major start with a dramatic playoff win in the Houston Open yesterday.
Poulter nailed a 20-foot birdie putt on the final hole of regulation play to force a playoff with rookie Beau Hossler. The 42-year-old then sealed victory and the last Masters spot with a par on the first extra hole after Hossler made a messy triple bogey.
The Houston win came after a tumultuous outing in last week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, where Poulter was mistakenly told that he had done enough by reaching the last eight to get into the Top 50 of the world ranking and earn a Masters invite. He was only informed of the error just before that start of his quarterfinal match against Kevin Kisner, which he lost 8 and 6.
“There are times when you have to dig deep when you want something bad enough. You have to go right down to the bottom and grab hold of what you can to come back up” said Poulter, who finished on 19-under-par in Houston despite opening with a 73.
Injuries and poor form saw Poulter slip out of the top 200 of the world ranking early last year and he was in danger of losing his PGA Tour card. The Houston win moved him up to 29th in the latest ranking and earned him a two-year PGA Tour exemption through the 2019-2020 season.
“The journey continues,” Poulter noted. “I’ve had 19 good years on tour and I guess I have a couple more coming … so there’s life in the old dog yet!”
The Houston title was Poulter’ s third on the PGA Tour title but his first since the 2012 WGC-HSBC Champions in China. It was also his first strokeplay win on American soil.
Poulter became the fifth winner in his 40s on the PGA Tour this season, joining Pat Perez (CIMB Classic), Ryan Armour (Sanderson Farms Championship), Paul Casey (Valspar Championship) and Phil Mickelson (WGC-Mexico Championship).
Winner’s Bag: Ian Poulter, Houston Open
Driver: Titleist 917D2 (9.5°) with Mitsubishi Tensei Orange CK 60TX shaft
Fairway: Titleist 917F2 3-wood (16.5°) with Matrix Ozik TP7HDe 7X shaft
Hybrid: Titleist 816H2 (21°) with Aldila Tour Green ATX85H TX shaft
Irons: Titleist 716 T-MB (4) with Project X LZ 130 7.0 shaft / Titleist 718 AP2 (5-9, P) with Project X LZ 130 7.0 shafts
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM7 (52°.12F, 56°.14F, 60°.04L) with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400 shafts
Putter: Odyssey #7
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x