Poulter spoils Ogilvy party, Donald upset
Ian Poulter upset the likes of Luke Donald (L) and Geoff Ogilvy to claim the Australian Masters Golf title in Melbourne. AP photoEngland’s Ian Poulter won the Australian Masters yesterday, spoiling Geoff Ogilvy’s bid for a victory on his boyhood course.
Poulter, two strokes behind Ogilvy entering the round, closed with a 4-under 67 in windy conditions to finish at 15-under 269 at Victoria Golf Club.
Australian Marcus Fraser had a 64 to finish second, three strokes back. Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open champion who matched the course record with a 63 on Saturday, shot a 73 to end up third at 11 under.
Poulter quickly erased Ogilvy’s overnight lead with a 15-foot eagle putt on the par-4 first hole. He then hit a birdie on the seventh to take the outright lead and added another on the ninth to make the turn with a two-shot advantage.
“To come down here the week before Christmas and to win this tournament is very special,” he said. “I had a message from (former champion) Justin Rose who said, ‘Put a nice gold jacket in your wardrobe like I have,’ and it’s nice to do that.” World No. 1 Luke Donald had four birdies on the front nine to move up to fifth place, but followed with four bogeys on the back nine to finish with a 1-over 72 and a share of 12th.
Greg Chalmers failed in his bid to become the second player to complete the Australian Triple Crown, shooting a 74 to join Donald in the group at 4 under. Robert Allenby remains the only player to sweep the Australian Open, PGA and Masters. He accomplished the feat in 2005.
Poulter putted well in the final round, despite the windy conditions.
After nailing the 15-footer for eagle on the first, he sank a long putt to save par on the fifth and putted across the green for birdie on the seventh. He nearly made another eagle on the ninth, with the ball stopping inches from the hole.
“After the first couple of days when there wasn’t much wind people may have thought the Victoria Golf Club was easy, but they were mistaken,” Poulter said. “It certainly showed its teeth today.” Ogilvy showed signs of life on the back nine, sinking a long putt for birdie on the 16th, but Poulter matched his birdie to maintain his three-shot lead. A bogey on the 17th was the only blemish on Poulter’s final-round scorecard.
Fraser had eight birdies and a bogey to surge past Ogilvy for second. Ogilvy, who grew up playing on the Victoria Golf Club, had two birdies, two bogeys and a double bogey in his final round.
Australian veteran Peter Senior finished in a share of fourth place with compatriot Adam Crawford.
Luke Donald’s hopes of the Australian Masters title to cap his year ended in disappointment yesterday with a forgettable back nine, but the globe-trotting Englishman pledged to come back after a month with his sights set on a maiden major triumph.
The world number one signed off with a scratchy one-over-par 72 at Victoria Golf Club to finish joint 12th behind Poulter, having toiled on the sandbelt course’s undulating greens with little reward throughout the tournament.
Donald’s second trip to Australia, his first as a professional, allowed him to mix business with pleasure as he garnered tips for his golf architecture ambitions on Melbourne’s sandbelt golf courses.
Having taken a long-haul flight from the Middle East where he sewed up the European Tour money crown at the Dubai World Championship, the Englishman said it was time for a well-earned break after a brilliant year in which he also topped the U.S. PGA Tour’s Order of Merit.
“I’ll put the clubs away for three weeks,” said Donald, who will kick off 2012 at the Jan. 26-29 Abu Dhabi Championship in a field featuring former world number one Tiger Woods.
“I think you always need rest, it’s a long year, as golfers we play all year round and it’s important to take breaks.”
Donald, who was awarded both the U.S. and European Player of the Year awards after phenomenally consistent seasons on each tour, has simple aspirations for next year.
“To try and better (this year) somehow. You’re always looking to get better and improve, obviously I’d love to win a major and be a part of that group -- but to continue to improve.
“There’s definitely parts of my game I feel I could get stronger at and I’ll be working on that in the off-season.”
Donald, who won more than $6 million on the U.S. circuit and 5 million euros ($6.5 million) on the European Tour, will spend the holidays at his home in Chicago before having a tune-up in Florida ahead of Abu Dhabi. He faces one last challenge before he can put his feet up - Christmas shopping.
“The children are easy, the wife is the harder part,” he said. “She keeps telling me jewellery and shoes. ‘I’m easy to satisfy’. But I’m trying to find something original.”