It was 11.30pm and I roared with approval at the television. So? It was so unexpected and exciting and so great for European golf, hopefully the roar could be heard all the way to Woburn and Milton Keynes, never mind Lake Nona as Ian Poulter beat Beau Hostler in a sudden death playoff to win the Houston Open.
Im beginning to see a theme to this year. It’s all about what footballers call Bouncebackability. With Rory, Casey, Bubba and now Poults returning to the winners circle after many were writing them off. And the most unexpected of all, the great return of Sir Tiger of Isleworth.
I wondered about Poulter when I heard he had dug out his Miracle of Medinah putter last week at the WGC Matchplay when he creditably reached the Quarter Finals. He needed to do better to play at Augusta next week and he had only one option – he had to win at Houston.
His win tonight will go down in the record books. No player in PGA Tour history has won from such a lowly position after the first round. Poulter was tied 123rd and had packed his bags to go home at the weekend. He said after his final round that last week at the Matchplay had been painful. He came to Houston tired, frustrated and disappointed. It was only early in the second round when he said to his caddie James “let’s just go and play golf”. This gave him a mental switch to get to rounds of 64,65 and 67. After Hostler hit his approach into the water on the first play off hole Poulter had three putts to win. It is his first strokeplay win in America. Not only will he play in The Masters next week, he also gets a 2 year exemption to play on the PGA Tour.
“It’s been tough, hard. I’ve been injured but I’ve been patient, dug deep and waited my time. He said his wife Katie had been a rock through this time and the win was for her”. It was only back in February that he whistfully posted on Instagram this picture of his old Ferrari which he had sell to Rory. Now he can buy a shiny new one.
It’s not the first time that Poulter has been in a precarious situation and pulled something extraordinary out of the bag. After a 2016 foot injury he was playing on a medical exemption and sunk to 195th in the World Rankings. His clothing business folded and he was about to lose his playing privileges when miraculously he discovered that he had retained his card on a technicality. Two weeks later he placed 2nd in the prestigious Players Championship and started to play well again on both sides of the Atlantic.
Oh how we needed this win, not just for Poulter but for the European Ryder Cup team. Please let there be a berth for him. He has the stomach for the knife edge battles of matchplay. Nobody except Seve has played with such guts and with the heart of a lion in the Ryder Cup and once again Poulter has pulled off the extraordinary in the nick of time.