HOUSTON – Ian Poulter beat PGA Tour rookie Beau Hossler in a playoff to win the Houston Open on Sunday and earn the final invitation to the US Masters.
The Briton parred the first extra hole to outlast American Hossler after the pair had shot matching 67s to finish regulation on 19-under-par 269 at Golf Club of Houston in Texas.
Using the same putter he wielded so effectively to lead Europe to victory in the 2012 Ryder Cup, Poulter sank a 20-foot birdie putt at the last hole to force the playoff.
He punched his chest with his right fist five times in excitement after the putt dropped in, a minute after Hossler had grazed the hole with a birdie attempt of his own that would have clinched victory. Hossler then handed the win to Poulter in the playoff when his third shot from a bunker flew over the green and into a water hazard.
Poulter arrived in Houston needing a win to qualify for the Masters after missing out by a whisker when he found himself 51st in the world rankings last week.
The top 50 at the cutoff last Monday earned exemption to Augusta.
“I haven’t won a stroke play event in the States, so to do it this week, after the disappointment of last week, to know I’m going to Augusta, to do it in true fashion is amazing,” the 42-year-old Englishman told NBC.
Poulter’s chances of qualifying for the year’s first major, which starts on Thursday, looked remote after he shot 73 on Thursday but rounds of 64, 65, 67 followed after he flicked what he described as a “mental switch”.
“Last week was painful,” Poulter said.
“To come here this week, I was tired, frustrated. I didn’t play my best stuff on Thursday.”