England’s Ian Poulter beat countryman Paul Casey by 4 and 2 to win the WGC – Accenture Match Play Championship and climb to fifth on the Official World Golf Ranking.
In the first ever all-European final, Poulter played an extremely solid day’s golf to consign Casey to the runner’s-up position for the second year in succession.
Casey began the final day early as he had to finish off his semi final match with Camilo Villegas, it had been halted because of darkness on Saturday night with the pair locked together after five extra holes.
Unfortunately, Villegas hooked his tee-shot on the 24th hole (their first of Sunday morning,) and Casey took the match with a par 4.
There was little chance to reflect for Casey as he was out again almost immediately to face Poulter in the final. Casey came out of the blocks fast, he fired an incredible approach into the par-5 2nd and was conceded an eagle putt. It was the only time Casey would lead.
Poulter struck back with a birdie at the 3rd and, by the 14th hole of the first round, was four clear. Although Casey held the gap at around that level, he was unable to narrow the margin significantly.
Poulter is the first Englishman to win a WGC title. “It feels really, really nice. It’s been a long time coming and I am very happy,” he said. “There’s certainly a few ticked boxes now. It’s just another goal achieved, and hopefully we can now set our goals a little higher to kick on for the rest of the year.”
Casey, though understandably disappointed at missing out in the final for a second straight year, was gracious in defeat. “Ian played excellent golf. There were a lot of shots I wanted to pull off and didn’t, but he did a fantastic job,” he said. “There are a lot of positives to come out of the week for me.”
One of those positives is that Casey is back up to sixth on the World Ranking, now one behind Poulter. English players now occupy fourth, fifth and sixth spots, (Westwood being fourth).
In the third place playoff a lacklustre Sergio Garcia was brushed aside by Camilo Villegas.
WGC – Accenture Match Play Championship
The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Dove Mountain, Arizona
Feb 17-21, purse $8,500,000, par 72
1 Ian Poulter (Eng) $1,400,000
2 Paul Casey (Eng) $850,000
3 Camilo Villegas (Col) $600,000
4 Sergio Garcia (Esp) $490,000
T5 Retief Goosen (RSA) $270,000
T5 Stewart Cink (USA) $270,000
T5 Oliver Wilson (Eng) $270,000
T5 Thongchai Jaidee (Tha) $270,000
Note: Player scores in bold signifies Titleist ball usage only