WGC-ACCENTURE MATCH PLAY CHAMPIONSHIP

Poulter the one making the noise

Hotel party can't keep Brit from reaching final against undecided foe
2010-02-21T00:00:00Z 2014-09-15T09:02:41Z Poulter the one making the noiseRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 21, 2010 12:00 am  • 

Ian Poulter was sitting in his hotel room at 6:15 Friday night when he heard the thump-thump-thump of music from a nearby party.

Poulter called the front desk and asked to be moved. He blanched when he saw his new room number.

"They gave me a room number ending in 13," he said. "I was questioning whether to go back and put up with the noise. But I guess that's a lot of nonsense."

Turns out, it was Poulter's lucky number.

The steady Englishman vaulted into his first WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship final with a pair of rousing wins Saturday at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Dove Mountain.

Poulter defeated Thongchai Jaidee 1-up in the quarterfinals, then rolled Sergio Garcia 7 and 6 in a rain-soaked, windblown semifinal match.

He will face Paul Casey or Camilo Villegas this morning in a 36-hole final.

The semifinal match between Casey and Villegas was suspended at 6:21 p.m. Saturday after the two halved the 23rd hole. The semifinal match will resume today at 7:10 a.m., with the winner facing Poulter at 7:40.

Poulter has never won on United States soil. He said a victory today would "mean an awful lot."

"To win on this side of the pond would be another tick in the boxes that are still unticked, so it would be good," he said.

Poulter's run has brought some much-needed color - and a little plaid - to a tournament that began without Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

The 34-year-old Poulter is the boldest dresser on the PGA Tour, sporting brightly colored pants emblazoned with his own registered Tartan plaid or, sometimes, the Union Jack.

He has his own clothing line, Ian Poulter Designs, and famously sports loud colors. His sunglasses, hats and shoes often match.

Off the course, Poulter is an avid car collector. He recently purchased a Ferrari California convertible and a Mercedes S 63 AMG. They join a collection that includes a Bentley Continental GT, Mercedes Benz GL 330, Nissan GT-R, Aston Martin DB9 and Ford GT, among others.

Poulter laughed when asked Saturday what car he would buy with his winnings.

"I don't want anything, actually," he said.

While it makes him unique on the PGA Tour, Poulter's look - and all that comes with it - can be polarizing.

Detractors have accused Poulter of being "all mouth and trousers." Others have given him the nickname "Pret-a-Poulter" - a take on the French fashion term meaning "ready to wear."

Saturday, however, Poulter was a British bulldog.

Playing in the morning quarterfinals, Poulter nailed a tricky 7-foot-3-inch putt on No. 18 to defeat Jaidee 1-up.

Poulter then spooked Garcia into submission with stellar play. He won the first hole when Garcia conceded, then - after losing No. 2 - won four straight holes.

Poulter was 5-up after nine holes and 6-up after 10. He won the match when Garcia hit his drive into a cactus patch on the par-3, 203-yard 12th hole.

The 7-and-6 victory is the biggest semifinal blowout in the history of the tournament.

"I mean, I obviously didn't play well," Garcia said. "The first four or five holes were really stupid. But, you know, at the end of the day (Poulter) played awesome. He made everything he looked at and I didn't. So that's how it is."

Poulter once famously mused, "if I ever get happy with myself finishing 12th or 15th, someone needs to put away my clubs and I'll take up tiddlywinks."

Forget the games. Today, he's playing for a championship - and luck has nothing to do with it.

"I didn't really want to change my room," he said. "But I guess it worked out fine."

On StarNet: See video coverage of Saturday's rounds of Match Play at azstarnet.com/sports/golf

IF YOU GO

• Where: The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Dove Mountain

• When: Final round today

• Tickets: Visit worldgolfchampion ships.com, call 1-866-942-2672 or purchase at the gate.

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