Clutch Ian Poulter wins Houston Open in playoff to earn Masters berth after all

HUMBLE, TX - APRIL 01: Ian Poulter of England celebrates after making a putt to win the Houston Open in a playoff at the Golf Club of Houston on April 1, 2018 in Humble, Texas. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Clutch Ian Poulter wins Houston Open in playoff to earn Masters berth after all

PGA Tour

Clutch Ian Poulter wins Houston Open in playoff to earn Masters berth after all

Here is a recap of the final round of the Houston Open at the Golf Club of Houston:

WINNER: Ian Poulter is in the Masters, and oh man is it deserved.

The Englishman appeared to be cruising to a win at the Houston Open and a Masters spot, then looked to have it snatched away and finally came back at the end to indeed seal it.

Poulter led overall by two shots and Beau Hossler by three with seven to play Sunday, only to fall one behind after Hossler made four straight birdies. Poulter was still one back as he faced a 20-footer for birdie at the 72nd hole.

He had to make the putt to force a playoff and keep his Masters hopes alive. Oh, but of course the Ryder Cup hero drained it.

A playoff ensued. The pair returned to the 18th for the first extra hole. Hossler bladed a greenside bunker shot into the water. With Poulter safely putting for birdie from about 35 feet, it was essentially over.

Poulter, 42, cozied his birdie effort close. After Hossler cleaned up a triple bogey, Poulter putted out for par to win.

The 54-hole co-leaders both closed in 5-under 67 for 19-under totals, but despite Hossler’s valiant effort he came up short.

What a story this is for Poulter, though.

Sunday’s rollercoaster was the culmination to a week of drama.

Last week, the Englishman was told incorrectly he’d earned a Masters berth after reaching the quarterfinals at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. He hadn’t, as it turned out he needed to make the semifinals to get that Masters berth. He was crushed 8-and-6 in his quarterfinal match to unfortunately ensure his spot at Augusta would remain elusive. After that, only a win in Houston would get him a last-minute Masters spot. Well…

Poulter appeared to be in dire straits there when he opened in 1-over 73 in Houston to sit T-123. But he followed up with a stunning 64-65 in the next 36 holes to rocket to the 54-hole co-lead. And then the wild Sunday that ended with his ticket being punched to Augusta.

Again, what a dramatic story.

Hossler will have to wait for another day. The 23-year-old was a star as a junior and a college player. He led the U.S. Open at age 17 and later won the Haskins Award. His first PGA Tour win is elusive for now, but it’ll likely come in due time.

He’s making plenty of noise in his first full PGA Tour season.

But this is Poulter’s day. He earns his third PGA Tour win, and to add on even more to this story, Poulter broke a six-year win drought with this triumph.

So much to unpack, but it’s official now. Ian, you are 100 percent in next week’s Masters field.

JUST MISSED: Aside from Hossler, there were other challengers. Emiliano Grillo made a late charge, but he ran out of holes. A closing bogey dropped him to a tie for third at 16 under. Jordan Spieth drained a 29-footer for par to close out a 6-under 66. That round moved him up 10 spots to a tie for third at 16 under. He put himself in contention at times Sunday, but ultimately he didn’t have quite enough.

SHOT OF THE DAY: Yeah, you know what shot we’re putting here. Way to keep your Masters hopes alive, Poults.

SHORT SHOTS: Henrik Stenson ties for sixth at 14 under. … Russell Henley, the defending champion, closes in 65 to jump 40 spots to a tie for eighth at 13 under. … Phil Mickelson fires a final-round 67 to jump 31 spots and salvage a T-24 at 10 under. … Rickie Fowler continues his slide. A second straight 73 pushes him down 26 spots to a tie for 43rd at 8 under. … Ernie Els ties for 72nd at 2 under.

UP NEXT: There’s nothing important next week. WE’RE JUST KIDDING. The Masters is upon us, and we are quite excited. Follow all the action our team is chronicling from Augusta National on Golfweek.com and our Facebook and Twitter feeds.

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