England’s Ian Poulter came from behind to secure a three-shot win in the JBWere Australian Masters in Melbourne.
Poulter had gone into the final day’s play two shots behind home favourite Geoff Ogilvy, but produced a closing 67 in windy conditions to run out a comfortable winner.
Many people had expected the final round to develop into a shoot-out between overnight leader Ogilvy and the flamboyant Poulter, but it never materialised as the Australian failed to cope with the windy conditions.
Ogilvy’s two-shot margin was immediately eroded on the opening hole as Poulter produced a stunning eagle at the short opener. While Ogilvy stemmed the flow to remain in touch with the Englishman, an error-strewn back nine saw him fade into third place as Poulter was relentless in his pursuit of the win, taking the lead with a birdie at the seventh and extending his advantage to two shots at the ninth, where his approach stopped inched from the pin.
From that point, it was Poulter’s to lose – but that scenario was never likely to happen
It was a win borne of justice for Poulter, who had battled a bout of food-poisoning on Friday, and been subject to media criticism over his image and eye for fashion.
Marcus Fraser came through for second place on 12-under par, with Ogilvy settling for third place, a further shot behind. Veteran player Peter Senior shot a closing 70 to share fourth place with Adam Crawford. Senior was one of only three players in the field to shoot all four rounds under-par – Poulter and Fraser being the other two players to achieve the feat.
Luke Donald, fresh from being crowned world number one, and topping the money lists on both the PGA Tour and European Tour, eased home with a 72 to join Greg Chalmers on 4-under par. Chalmers had been bidding to secure a hat-trick of wins following successes in the Australian Open and PGA Championship.
As is normal for Poulter, he immediately turned to Twitter to voice his celebrations at winning the title. Poulter shared the line “Winner winner chicken dinner Merry Christmas everyone. 2012 JBWere Australian Masters Champion. What a way to finish the year” on the social network, where Poulter boasts 1.2 million followers.
In addition to the winner’s Gold jacket – which will no doubt look incredibly natty in his wardrobe – Poulter climbs into the world’s top 20 following the win – from 28th place to 16th. Poulter also scooped a winner’s cheque of AUS$180,000 (£116,000), but the money took second place behind the significance of Poulter’s win.
“To win this is the second highlight in what has been a tough year for me,” Poulter said during his media conference. “I needed to play well this week. It will move me 10 or 12 spots up the world rankings. Any win, whether it’s in Asia, in Europe, in America, moves you forward. That’s how you work out how well you’re playing; take a look at the world rankings, they don’t lie. To do this in a Ryder Cup year and move inside the top 20 on the world rankings means a heck of a lot.”