Ian Poulter has had a pretty poor season by his own lofty standards. However, the Englishman proved he’s in better form heading into the final two events of the European season with a joint sixth-place finish at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions at Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai, China. It is Poulter’s first European Tour top 10 since the Volvo China Open in April, where he tied for fifth.
Poulter has only recorded one top 10 on this year’s PGA Tour, posting a sixth in the FedEx St Jude Classic in June. Three top 10s this season is below par for the flamboyant Englishman.
He played a part in Europe’s Ryder Cup victory, but not as big a part as many expected. He only played three times that week, and earned one and a half points out of a possible three.
Don’t rule out the Englishman finishing the season with a flourish. Poulter has a liking for the Earth course at Jumeirah Golf Estates, which will host the European Tour’s season-ending DP World Golf Championship Dubai. Poulter finished runner-up last year, and was also second in 2010.
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Levy stakes his claim: If you thought Victor Dubuisson was an automatic nominee for France’s best golfer, think again. Alexander Levy left him in his dust in Shanghai.
Levy posted a T-14 finish in the elite field, just a week after finishing runner-up in the BMW Masters.
The 24-year-old California-born Frenchman is coming off a two-win season after victories in the Volvo China Open and Portugal Masters. He’s fifth on the European money list with E2,047,817 in earnings.
And Dubuisson? He shot rounds of 76-77 in Shanghai and withdrew.
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McDowell falters down the stretch: Graeme McDowell led for the first 54 holes but faltered when it really mattered. The 2010 U.S. Open champion then admitted he’d spent the week flattering to deceive.
“To be brutally honest, I didn’t have my ‘A’ game all week,” McDowell said. “And the golf course just got so difficult this weekend. The pins were evil at times and you really had to be on your iron play to have a chance to access them. I didn’t play well enough, simple as that.
“The putter that was so hot early in the week kind of cooled off this weekend, but to finish tied third in this type of field, not playing my best, I have to count myself fairly fortunate.
“To finish third in the style I did, I’m disappointed. To finish third playing the way I did, I’m pretty happy.”
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Tommy belongs with elite: England’s Tommy Fleetwood is quickly establishing himself as the young English golfer who can’t be overlooked. Fleetwood posted a T-24 finish to continue an amazing season.
The 23-year-old moved to 19th on the European money list and has a chance at ending the season in the top 10 with two good finishes.
The 2009 Walker Cup player has seven top 10s this year, including three runner-ups. No one would be surprised if he won one of the final two events to add to his 2013 Johnnie Walker Championship win at Gleneagles.
Fleetwood, who finished runner-up in the 2009 British Amateur Championship, was fancied as a contender for this year’s European Ryder Cup team. Don’t be surprised if he makes his debut in 2016.
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Jeong finishes bottom of the class: Jin Jeong’s miserable season continued in Shanghai with a last-place finish. The 2010 British Amateur champion struggled to break 80, with scores of 85, 79, 75 and 80 to finish at 31-over 319, 13 shots behind a trio of players who finished next-to-last and 42 shots behind Watson and Clark. Jeong, winner of the 2013 ISPS Handa Perth International, had missed 15 of his last 17 cuts coming into Shanghai. He is currently No. 123 on the European money list.