SHENZHEN, China — Ian Poulter still had something to prove this year even after sparking Europe’s improbable come-from-behind Ryder Cup victory.
He wanted to take home a stroke-play title–badly.
And Poulter got his wish Sunday after he shot a 7-under 65 to rally from four strokes back to win the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions at Mission Hills by two shots.
It was the Englishman’s second World Golf Championship victory — he also captured the Accenture Match Play Championship in 2010 — and his first title of any kind since the Volvo World Match Play Championship in May 2011.
Phil Mickelson (68), Jason Dufner (64), Scott Piercy (65) and Ernie Els (67) finished in a tie for second at 19-under 269.
Lee Westwood and Louis Oosthuizen, the co-leaders overnight, slumped to equal sixth after struggling on the greens and posting identical scores of 72.
Poulter was the star of the European squad at the Ryder Cup this year, making five straight birdies alongside Rory McIlroy to rally the pair past Dufner and Zach Johnson and give the Europeans the point they needed to keep their hopes alive heading into singles play on the final day. The Europeans then came back from a 10-6 deficit to beat the Americans 14 -13 .
Poulter had four wins in four matches at Medinah and improved his career Ryder Cup record to 12-3 — the highest winning percentage of any European golfer in history.
But he was winless on the PGA Tour and European Tour this year before Mission Hills.
“I’ve only been one season without a victory and I certainly didn’t want to go another one,” the 36-year-old said. “As well as I’ve played this year, it would have been a disappointment personally to have gone that year without winning.”
On a day when five different players topped the leaderboard — and several others were close — it was the charismatic Poulter who was the steadiest.
Starting the day four shots back in a share of fourth place, the Englishman surged into the lead after birdying four holes on the front nine and then two more after the turn.
Mickelson and Els tried to stay close, but both wasted opportunities to pull even. Mickelson bogeyed the 12th after missing a 5-footer by an inch, while Els bogeyed the 14th after lipping out a 3-footer and narrowly missed a birdie putt on No. 18.
Final-round Leaderboard: 1. Ian Poulter 267 (-21); T2 Jason Dufner 269 (-19); T2 Scott Piercy 269 (-19); T2 Ernie Els 269 (-19); Phil Mickelson 269 (-19); T7 Louis Oosthusizen 270 (-18); T7 Lee Westwood 270 (-18)
- For Poulter, the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions will count as an official PGA Tour victory and offer a three-year exemption.
- Prize money from the $7 million purse does not, however, count toward’s Poulter’s official PGA Tour money list.
- Beginning in 2013, the HSBC Champions will be a part of the FedExCup schedule and a member’s victory will be official as will earnings and FedExCup points.
- Earns his second PGA Tour victory at the age of 36 years, 10 months, 24 days, becoming the 19th player in his 30s to win this year (24 events total).
- Poulter’s 21-under-par total sets the new tournament low score in relation to par. It is the third-lowest total by a winner in World Golf Championships history.
- Becomes only the second player to record his first two PGA Tour wins at World Golf Championships events, joining Darren Clarke (2000 Accenture Match Play Championship; 2003 Bridgestone Invitational).With two World Golf Championships titles, Poulter becomes the seventh player with multiple World Golf Championships victories: Tiger Woods (16), Geoff Ogilvy (3), Darren Clarke (2), Ernie Els (2), Phil Mickelson (2), Hunter Mahan (2).
- Becomes the first Englishman to win two World Golf Championships titles.
- Has won 13 previous times internationally, including two other wins in Asia (2009 Barclays Singapore Open and 2010 UBS Hong Kong Open).\
- Poulter is the only player who has competed in all eight HSBC Champions. His best finish previously was a T13 in both 2010 and 2011.
- Poulter began the round T4, four shots off the pace, his best standing through three rounds at a World Golf Championships event (stroke play).
- Wins with all four rounds in the 60s (69-68-65-65). The last time Poulter carded all four rounds in the 60s in a PGA Tour-sanctioned event was the June 2011 Travelers Championship (T24).
- Dufner shot a final-round 64 following a disappointing 71 in the third round for his second runner-up finish in the last three weeks.
- Dufner finished second to Bo Van Pelt at the European Tour’s ISPS HANDA Perth International two weeks ago. He finished T16 at last week’s CIMB Classic and now finished T2 at the HSBC Champions. Dufner played each of the last three weeks with three different local caddies at each event.
- Dufner’s regular caddie had passport issues and was unable to make the trip abroad.
Ernie Els – Els played the front nine in 18-under-par and the back nine in 1-under-par en route to his
second-career runner-up finish at the HSBC Champions.
- Els also finished runner-up at this event in 2009.
- The HSBC Champions was Els’ 39th career start in a World Golf Championships event, second only to Lee Westwood’s 41 starts.
Scott Piercy – Piercy’s 7-under-par 65 on Sunday which moved him into a tie for second comes one week after he shot 62 on Sunday at the CIMB Classic to move into the top 10.
– Piercy’s runner-up finish comes in just his second start in a World Golf Championships event. Piercy finished T19 earlier this year at the Bridgestone Invitational.
Phil Mickelson – Mickelson finished runner-up in his return to the HSBC Champions after a one-year hiatus. He is the only two-time winner of the tournament (2007, 2009) and owns a second World Golf Championships title from the 2009 Cadillac Championship.
– A win this week would have given Mickelson three World Golf Championships titles and put him tied with Geoff Ogilvy (3) behind Tiger Woods (16) for most WGC wins.
- In the last two events (CIMB Classic and HSBC Champions), American Nick Watney has final-round scores of 61-62. The 62 on Sunday at the HSBC Champions moved him from a T40 after round three to a T15. His 61 last week helped him win the CIMB Classic in Malaysia.
- Defending champion Martin Kaymer carded rounds of 68-69-67-68 (-16) to finish ninth in his effort to defend last year’s HSBC Champions victory.Bill Haas, who finished 10th, ended his stretch of bogey-free golf on the 14th hole. Before giving a stroke back, Haas had gone 50 holes without a bogey.
- Most World Golf Championships appearances – (not counting World Cup): Lee Westwood 41; Ernie Els 39; Retief Goosen 39; Tiger Woods; Padraig Harrington 38; Phil Mickelson 37.