Poulter holds on to win Hong Kong Open; Manassero finishes one back

Ian Poulter
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With his victory in Hong Kong, Ian Poulter moved back into the top 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
By
Michael Church
PGA.com

Series:

Overnight leader Ian Poulter held off a spirited challenge from Italian youngster Matteo Manassero to win the Hong Kong Open by a single stroke on Sunday and return to the top 10 in the world rankings.

The 17-year-old Manassero completed a final round 8-under 62 at the Fanling course, but Poulter's 67 was enough to clinch his 10th win on the European Tour with a 22-under total of 258.

2010 UBS HONG KONG OPEN

This week, the European Tour is in China for the UBS Hong Kong Open.

"I felt comfortable the whole day, the way I was hitting it," Poulter said. "I was hitting it inside 12 feet at pretty much nearly every hole out there and I knew if I kept doing that I would be very tough to beat."

England's Simon Dyson tied for second after a 65, while American Anthony Kang was another stroke back in fourth.

While the win puts him back into the top 10 in the world rankings, Poulter isn't going to make any more brash predictions about getting to No. 1. Poulter said in early 2008 that when he reached his full potential, he was the only golfer who could challenge Tiger Woods atop the rankings.

But with Lee Westwood having taken over from Woods as No. 1, Poulter is decidedly more low-key about his own prospects.

"I'm not going to play the game of saying I'm going to get to No. 1," he said. "I tried that once before and it didn't work, so I think I'll just try and win next week and see how high I go. Tiger’s dropped a lot of points, Westwood's the world No. 1 and if I keep playing well, then who knows, I could get up there."

Poulter led going into the final round by two shots from Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell but the U.S. Open champion's challenge was all but over by the third hole after a pair of bogeys. He ended in fifth place after closing with a 68.

Still, it reduced his deficit to European money leader Martin Kaymer to €214,000 ahead of next week's season-ending Dubai World Championship.

"I'm within touching distance now of next week," McDowell said. "I've got to play well next week, simple as that. Martin, I can't control his ball, I can only control mine. I'm going to go in there next week and try to play my own game. I have a few things to brush up on before Thursday, but all in all, I'll driving the ball great, which is key to next week and I'm feeling really good, feeling really good about my game."

Rory McIlroy, who was runner-up in this tournament in 2008 and 2009, had a final-round 67 to finish sixth.

The main threat to Poulter looked like it would come from fellow Dyson, who eagled the par-5 third hole and had birdies at the fourth, sixth and seventh to move to the top of the leader board.

A bogey at the eighth, however, stalled Dyson's progress before Poulter reignited his charge, eagling the 13th after hitting the turn in 32.

Not even a bogey at the last -- only his second of the tournament -- could deny the 34-year-old Poulter as he won his second European Tour event of the season.

Manassero, meanwhile, was consistently picking up shots and, after four birdies in the first 12 holes, an eagle at the 13th and another pair of birdies over the closing three holes secured a share of second.