Ian Poulter fights back for first PGA Tour strokeplay win to clinch Masters spot

He'd packed his bags in resignation, presuming a first day score of 73 would see him miss the cut.Three rounds...

Posted: Apr 2, 2018 4:22 PM
Updated: Apr 2, 2018 4:22 PM

He'd packed his bags in resignation, presuming a first day score of 73 would see him miss the cut.

Three rounds and 21 birdies later, Ian Poulter was pounding his heart with joy, having completed one of the most remarkable comebacks of his long, illustrious career.

Ian Poulter wins 2018 Houston Open

English golfer was 123rd after first round

Victory gives 42-year-old place at Masters

The 42-year-old saved his best until last at the Houston Open, sinking a 19-foot birdie on the par-four eighteenth to force a playoff he would go on to easily win against American Beau Hossler.

Rekindling memories of the Miracle of Medinah, Poulter's ascent -- from 123rd in the leaderboard on Friday, to top of the pile come Sunday -- was the sharpest for 35 years on the PGA Tour.

It also meant the Englishman reserves the 87th and final spot at this week's Masters.

"To get this done today to get me to Augusta is amazing," said Poulter. "My first strokeplay win in the States, and to do it with the Masters on the line is unbelievable.

"It's going to take a little while to sink in. I'm super excited."

'Rollercoaster'

Poulter acknowledged it had been a "rollercoaster last couple of years," and indeed it wasn't long ago he'd slipped outside the world's top 200, beginning to consider life without a PGA Tour card.

This victory, his first at this level since the 2010 Match Play in Arizona, sees him pocket $1,260,000 and takes him back inside the top 30 with golf's most prestigious event just days away.

"I was kind of forcing things, trying to force my way into the Masters," Poulter admitted. "It didn't work so I had to rethink it, blow the cobwebs out Thursday night, reset and go again.

"The journey continues. "I've had 19 good years on Tour and I guess I've got another couple coming."

Ranked 213th in the world ahead of the tournament, Hossler had never previously secured a top-three finish in his professional career.

The 23-year-old Californian had done everything right Sunday, notching four birdies on the back nine, but he ultimately couldn't go the distance on the playoff, finding the bunker then the water to score an anticlimactic triple bogey.

"I got the best of Ian Poulter today and he got the best of me," said Hossler. "Unfortunately he came out on top this time but I feel good about my chances moving forward and I feel good that I can contend when it's important.

"I said yesterday I wanted to beat these guys at their best and I think I saw Ian's best today. It's a bummer right now but I'm proud of the way I played."

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Deja Vu?

Three shots back in third position was a resurgent Jordan Spieth, who reveled in his best full-field finish since September.

The 24-year-old former world No. 1 flirted with victory at the Houston Open three years ago, losing out to J.B Holmes, but ultimately going on to win golf's most coveted prize a few days later in Augusta.

With that in mind, Spieth jokingly told his caddy Michael Greller he didn't necessarily want to win "because that looks like 2015."

"Goal accomplished for the week," Spieth said. "I've made some big strides from my last couple tournaments. I'm very excited for what next week holds."

Meanwhile the great and the good of the golfing world made sure to congratulate Poulter on the third PGA Tour victory of his 23-year professional career.

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As Poulter himself put it, "there's life in the old dog yet."

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