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Ian Poulter's record-breaking performance in winning the UBS Hong Kong Open was yet another example of the Englishman's almost unmatched desire to achieve STORY BY ALEX JENKINS PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHARLES McLAUGHLIN Additional Photography by Daniel Wong

The Power of Belief

Sunday spectacle: 17-year-old Matteo Manassero (above) pushed Poulter (right) all the way during the final round. 40

I

an Poulter is brash, cocky, supremely confident and thoroughly engaging. He's also the 2010 UBS Hong Kong Open champion and, if he's to be believed, something of a psychic. "I knew I was going to win here," said Poulter, moments after sealing the title with a tournament record total of 258 (22-under-par). "I told Graeme McDowell at the beginning of the week that I was going to win because I've been playing some really good golf recently. I felt comfortable the whole day, the way I was hitting it, "added Poulter, who scooped over US$400,000 for his 10th European Tour victory. "I was hitting it inside 12 feet at pretty much every hole out there and knew if I kept doing that I would be very tough to beat." That's for sure – and in fairness to the now world number 10, he tweeted as much to his one million plus followers after coming close at the Singapore Open the week before.

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"I knew I was going to win because I've been playing some really good golf recently... I knew I'd be hard to beat."

With Fanling's Composite Course playing a touch softer than is normally the case for the time of year – combined with the officials' insistence to allow preferred lies during the week, a decision that baffled many Hong Kong Golf Club members – Poulter put on a master class of both ball-striking and putting. His second round 60, which would have been a new course record had it not been for the said lift, clean and place rule in place, was astonishing. The word from the club's terrace, the lounging place for those in the know during the week, was effectively, "The course isn't that easy." They're right – it's not. But give one of the world's best players the ideal conditions for scoring and he'll take advantage. That much is clear. HKGOLFER.COM

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What was surprising – and what made the 2010 edition of Hong Kong's oldest professional sporting event such compelling viewing – was that the Englishman didn't run away with it. Although McDowell, who was playing with Poulter in the final group, shot himself in the foot early in the final round to fall out of contention, first Simon Dyson, the 2000 Hong Kong Open champion, and then young gun Matteo Manassero, made significant inroads into his lead. Such was the quality of golf on display, particularly by Manassero, that Poulter, who only made two bogeys the entire week – at the third and 18th of his final round – won by just the slimmest of margins. In a way it's very apt that the 34-year-old triumphed in a city that is known for rewarding those with a strong work ethic and self belief, because few in the professional game have worked harder or have more desire than Poulter. Born in Stevenage, a small town to the north of London, to working-class parents, trendsetting Poulter once earned money by working in a market selling clothes (what else?) on the weekends to help fund his golf. Unlike contemporaries Luke Donald and Paul Casey, Poulter didn't make a name for himself on the amateur circuit and turned professional with a handicap of four, becoming an assistant pro at a local course, which in England means spending more time selling Mars bars and regripping members' clubs than it does playing or practicing. At the time, Poulter earned the princely sum of HK$45 an hour.

Falling short: 2000 Hong Kong Open champion Simon Dyson (above) was left to rue a stonecold putter over the final nine holes, while Rory McIlroy (right) couldn't improve on his firstround 63 and ended the event in sixth place. 42

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Top 10s: Korean-born American Anthony Kang (right), the 2009 Malaysian Open winner, found some late-season form at Fanling to place fourth; Graeme McDowell's poor start on Sunday cost him the chance of a first Hong Kong Open triumph (below).

UBS Hong Kong Open Results 1 2= 4 5 6 7= 10 44

Ian POULTER (ENG) Simon DYSON (ENG) Matteo MANASSERO (ITA) Anthony KANG (USA) Graeme McDOWELL (NIR) Rory McILROY (NIR) Jeev Milkha SINGH (IND) Jamie DONALDSON (WAL) Gareth MAYBIN (NIR) Marcus FRASER (AUS)

67 64 67 67 65 63 63 66 67 68

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60 65 63 61 65 66 67 66 67 63

64 65 67 67 63 66 66 65 68 67

67 65 62 65 68 67 67 66 61 66

258 259 259 260 261 262 263 263 263 264

$416,660 $217,135 $217,135 $125,000 $106,000 $87,500 $64,500 $64,500 $64,500 $50,000

Now, of course, he's a multi-millionaire with his own clothing line and a rack of tournament titles to his credit. What changed? According to Lee Scarbrow, who was Poulter's boss following a change of employers early in his professional career, nothing. "I've coached guys with better swings, but I've never come across anyone with more belief than Iain, said Scarbrow. "One thing about Ian – whatever he believes in, he gets." This belief – and let's not forget, more than a modicum of talent – earned Poulter a place on the European Challenge Tour in the late 1990s, where he won in – of all places – the Ivory Coast. In 2000, he earned his European Tour card after going through the rigours of qualifying school and capped the season off with victory at the Italian Open. It's been onward and upward from there. "I enter every tournament with one aim – to win," said Poulter, whose Hong Kong victory was his second of the year following his WGCAccenture Match Play win in February. "Most times I had no idea what the first prize was, I just wanted to win. I hate to lose, and I don't mind admitting it. I'm not a great golfer – my brother Danny is probably better than me – but I know how to win." And on the Sunday of the Hong Kong Open he proved precisely that. HKGOLFER.COM


The Driveable 10th

Cheeky chappy: Poulter's second-round 60 was full of highlights, including this moment on the 9th green after he made a 30-foot putt for birdie. Minutes earlier, playing partner McIlroy had holed his second shot for an eagle, and Poulter was quick to show the Ulsterman exactly what he thought of it. 46

Over the weekend the European Tour did something that has never been done before at the Hong Kong Open – they moved the 10th tee on the Composite Course up over 70 yards to encourage players into going for the green with their drives. From the standard back tee, the 10th – normally the 11th hole of the New Course – measures 367 yards and the pros traditionally play a fairway wood or hybrid to what can be considered a generous fairway followed by a wedge. For these guys, the ditch that fronts the green on this par-4 rarely comes into play (it's a different story for us amateurs of course) and the hole is deemed a good birdie chance. During the first two rounds the hole, from its regular yardage, played as the fifth easiest on the course, with a stroke average of 3.85. In moving the tee up to where the ladies usually play from, tournament director Mikael Eriksson completely changed the hole's dynamic. For those who could carry the ball 286 yards (the yardage to the front of the green), the chance of an eagle – and therefore a big move up

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the leaderboard – became a distinct possibility. Indeed, it became a reality when Graeme McDowell "absolutely nutted a driver" to within 15-feet on Saturday and then drained the putt. It was arguably the shot of the day and from a spectator point of view, the use of the forward tee added definite excitement. The change in yardage yielded expected results. The stroke average dropped to 3.64, which was the third lowest in relation to par on the course. Only the two par fives – the third and the 13th – played any easier. The 10th gave up three eagles (including McDowell's) over the weekend compared to none over the first two rounds. But while Eriksson should be applauded for the move, it shouldn't necessarily have come as a complete surprise. The driveable par-4 has become de rigueur in modern golf course architecture and there is a growing trend among the main tours to incorporate their use into tournament settings as a way of adding drama – or at least create talking points – over the course of a championship. The likelihood of seeing the same scenario next time around, therefore, would appear to be high. HKGOLFER.COM


Open Gallery

won the MacGregor Hong Kong Ju nior Close Cha mpionship in 2009. "I need to learn to be patient and enjoy myself and not try to score as I am only playing as an amateur. "Compared to when I normally play the course, the greens were much faster. Once you got in the deep rough it's easy to get flyers. The course was also pretty firm and you couldn't get any backspin." Mizuno played both his rounds alongside Anthony Kang and had the best seat in the house as the Korean-born American fired a brilliant nine birdies in a flawless second-day 61. "He is very straight and I liked his demeanour on the course," Kang said of Mizuno. "He hit a lot of good putts that didn't fall. It's easy to get discouraged by that, but he kept his head up and he had some nice touches around the green. "At that age you're not going to have the strength to hit it too long, but that is going to come when he develops more muscle. But he has a very nice game which is exactly what you need, so I see a big future for him."

Mizuno Impresses on Open Debut

Top of the class: Shinich Mizuno (above), the only amateur in the field, celebrates a made putt during his second round of level-par 70; India's Jeev Milka Singh (right) finished as the highestplaced Asian golfer, his total of 263 earning him a share of seventh. 48

The only amateur in the field, Shinichi Mizuno, did himself proud by finishing the championship as Hong Kong's leading player. The Nagoya-born 17-year-old, a product of the Hong Kong Golf Association's junior development programme, followed up an opening round three-over 73 with a solid 70 to narrowly miss the half-way cut. "I enjoyed myself a lot," said Mizuno, a member at Discovery Bay Golf Club. "Once I got to two-under [in his second round] I was trying to get more birdies rather than trying to enjoy it. I was too much in a rush. But I'm very happy to be the top Hong Kong player." Mizuno's play was all the more impressive given that he first picked up a golf club only five years ago. He earned his berth in the elite field by earning one of the five spots on offer at the UBS Hong Kong Open qualifying tournament held at The Jockey Club Kau Sai Chau Public Golf Course a month earlier. "I would like to come back and play again and try and make the cut," said Mizuno, who

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Caddie master: Former Hong Kong international Stuart Murray, who has caddied for Nick Faldo and James Kingston in previous Hong Kong Opens, shows his ‘bag’ for the week, two-time Major champ John Daly, the way during the second round. HKGOLFER.COM

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Sunny skies made the terrace at Fanling an especially agreeable spot.

HKPGA Championship winner C.J. Gatto. Darren Clarke comes close.

Shek O Country Club captain Jim Mailer and clan.

Miguel Angel Jimenez was so frustrated with his performance on the greens that he threw his putter in a rubbish bin during the second round. The flatstick was rescued by his caddie but the Spaniard, a two-time Hong Kong Open champ, failed to make the weekend cut.

Coverage of the event was beamed all over the planet.

Ian Poulter was the star of the show on and off the course. Photography by Charles McLaughlin and Daniel Wong Gregory Bourdy put in a stout defence of his title.

The UBS Long Putt Challenge kept plenty amused.

Rory McIlroy plays a chip from a pathway behind the third green. The young maestro somehow managed to get up and down for birdie. HKGA referee Roy Lee hitches a ride with European Tour chief rules official John Paramour.

The HK Golfer advertising board drew the attention of these particularly well groomed models from Hugo Boss.

James Collins-Taylor of Montrose Fine Wines, official wine suppliers to the UBS Hong Kong Open.

2008 winner Lin Wen-tang drew considerable support.

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UBS Hong Kong Open 2010