Ian Poulter was less worried about his own fine performance in coming second in the Asian Tour International Series event in Newcastle and more concerned by his teenaged son, Luke, finishing in the top 25 in his debut pro event.
Poulter’s final-round 64 hurtled him to nine-under at Close House and handed the 47-year-old his best placing of the year on nine-under, seven behind the runaway winner Andy Ogletreein the $2 million (£1.5 million) event. But as the Ryder Cup legend was shooting his lowest round of the year, Poulter was thinking of his child up front.
“Honestly, as well as I was playing, my mind was on how Luke was doing,” Poulter told Telegraph Sport. “Well it would have been, every parent will understand that. I was so proud of him just to make the cut he finished eagle, birdie, par on Friday to get into the weekend when there were loads of good players who missed out.
“And then to play the last two rounds in three under and get himself up to a tie for 22nd, in those tough conditions? That’s just brilliant. Luke has a chance now of making it – and he knows it.”
Poulter Jr is on the renowned golf programme at Florida State University and this result will give him only further confidence as he goes into the second year. “Look, he’s just done a year at college – where do I rate his game?” Poulter Sr said. “I’ve watched him hit enough balls, the kid’s got talent and definitely has an opportunity. Providing he keeps motivated to work on the right things to improve all the aspects that he needs to and he’s going to have a shot.”
In any normal year, Poulter Sr’s performance could have been considered as well timed with Luke Donald, the Europe captain, due to make his six Ryder Cup wildcard picks’ in two weeks time. But Poulter is not eligible after resigning his DP World Tour membership in the wake of being fined for joining the breakaway LIV Golf League.
Ryder Cup hopefuls could leapfrog Koepka in standings
Will Brooks Koepka, this year’s US PGA Champion, be the sole LIV representative in Rome? The American will need a wildcard off US captain Zach Johnson after falling out of the top six who automatically make the team in the final qualifying event on Sunday night.
Xander Schauffele pushed Koepka out after finishing in a tie for eighth at the BMW Championship in Chicago. Koepka will now require one of Johnson’s six captain’s picks to appear at the match at Marco Simone next month. It will be hugely contentious if Johnson does not select Koepka.
Donald must have watched the action on Sunday night licking his lips. Norway’s Viktor Hovland overhauled world No 1 Scottie Scheffler with a brilliant 61 at Olympia Fields to send himself into the FedEx Finale – starting in Atlanta on Thursday – just behind Scheffler in the standings in the battle to win the $18 million (£14 million) bonus.
It was a heartening night for Donald with Matt Fitzpatrick finishing in a tie for second and Rory McIlroy in fourth. The latter goes to East Lake in firm contention to win the PGA Tours order of merit for a fourth time.
On the DP World Tour, England’s Daniel Brown claimed his first title with a wire-to-wire victory in the ISPS Handa World Invitational in Northern Ireland. Brown carded a closing 69 at Galgorm Castle to finish 15-under, five shots clear of compatriot Alex Fitzpatrick.
The 28-year-old took a six-shot lead into the final round but quickly saw that cut in half as he bogeyed the opening hole and Fitzpatrick birdied the first and second. Both players bogeyed the third and Fitzpatrick also dropped a shot on the fourth before Brown birdied the fifth and sixth to restore his overnight cushion.
The world No 384 looked in total command when he began the back nine with a birdie on the 10th, but three straight bogeys meant his lead was briefly down to just two shots. However, Brown responded superbly with three birdies in the next four holes to make sure of a career-changing victory.
“It’s amazing,” Brown said. “I could never have dreamed this up over the past however many years. I don’t think it’s sunk in. America [finishing seventh in the Barbasol Championship] was a bit of a turning point. That just gave me a lot of confidence that I know I can do it.”