Ian Poulter wins Houston Open play-off to secure Masters place
American rookie Beau Hossler misses out in sudden death
Last Updated: 02/04/18 9:39am
Ian Poulter booked his place in the Masters by claiming a dramatic victory in the Houston Open following a play-off.
The Englishman brilliantly birdied the 18th hole at the Golf Club of Houston to set up a sudden-death shoot-out with American rookie Beau Hossler and then calmly parred the first extra hole as his rival twice found sand and then water coming back down the 18th.
The victory is Poulter's first since November 2012, his maiden PGA Tour strokeplay success and secures him the final invitation for the first major of the year at Augusta National.
Hossler, 23, looked like he had snatched the title from Poulter after a run of four successive birdies on the back nine earned him a one-shot advantage.
But Poulter, who had led by three himself at one stage on the front nine, refused to give in and rolled in a six-yard birdie putt on the final hole to join Hossler on 19-under 269, the emotion pouring out of the 42-year-old as he thumped his chest in celebration.
Jordan Spieth warmed up for the Masters by closing with six-under 66 to share third place with Argentina's Emiliano Grillo (68) on 16 under.
Poulter and Hossler had also shared the lead at the start of the day on 14 under and teed off in the final group together.
The Englishman had carded scores of 64 and 65 in his previous two rounds and he maintained his fine form as he made a flying start with birdies at the second, fourth and sixth to open up a three-shot cushion.
Poulter just missed out on an eagle at the eighth, but he then recorded his first bogey since the 13th hole on Thursday at the ninth, leaving him two ahead of Spieth, Hossler and another American in Sam Ryder, who briefly closed to within one after a birdie at the 13th before giving it back at the 14th.
A fifth birdie of the day at the 11th put Poulter back in command, but Hossler then took centre stage as he holed some excellent putts in his run of four straight birdies from the 12th.
Poulter spurned a number of birdie chances himself but he remained patient as Hossler parred the closing three holes - his own birdie putt at the 18th just shaved the hole - and he snatched his opportunity in dramatic circumstances at the death.
Spieth had an eagle, five birdies and just one bogey in his 66, while a bogey at the last cost Grillo outright third place.
Ryder had to settle for fifth place on 15 under, one ahead of Sweden's Henrik Stenson (69) and American Keith Mitchell (69).
Defending champion Russell Henley finished strongly with a 65 to claim a share of eighth place on 13 under.
Ireland's Paul Dunne, whose hopes were wrecked by a triple-bogey at the eighth in his 71, and Matt Kuchar also ended up on 13 under.
Justin Rose carded his second successive level-par 72 to finish in a tie for 52nd on seven under