Ian Poulter edges match play title to deny Donald top ranking

Luke Donald, denied the world No 1 spot in a play-off a month ago, just missed out on it again yesterday when Ian Poulter beat him in the final of the Volvo World Match Play Championship in Spain.

Donald was trying for an unprecedented match play double after taking the Accenture title in Arizona in February, but his fellow Englishman triumphed 2&1 at Finca Cortesin.

So Donald stays second behind Lee Westwood and Poulter celebrated his son Luke's seventh birthday in exactly the way he hoped - although not the moment when he fell down a bank trying to thrash his way out of a bush.

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"Happy birthday Luke," he said. "I thought it would be pretty special to win this today. I finally started holing some putts. I've been frustrated for a few months and you have to hole putts to win."

Donald said: "It was disappointing - I ran out of steam a bit and didn't take the opportunities I had."

In the first all-English final since the event began at Wentworth in 1964, Poulter, last year's Tucson champion, was behind three times before levelling again with a 40-footer on the short 12th and then going ahead two holes later.

Helped by Donald three-putting the next, missing a three-footer that would have taken the hole, Poulter went two-up with an approach to two feet on the 464-yard 16th and a half on the next was good enough - although he had to make a seven-footer for it.

It earned him nearly 704,000, while Donald's compensation was almost 370,000. Now, though, he must try again to take the No 1 spot off Westwood at Wentworth this coming week.

It was not only Donald who began the day with a chance to be No 1. So did Martin Kaymer, but in a repeat of the final in Tucson he came off a clear second best again in their semi-final.

In fact, he did not even take him as far. Their first clash ended 3&2 and this time Donald cruised through 5&3, never trailing from the moment Kaymer bogeyed the second. By the time the German double-bogeyed the short tenth, finding sand and then going off the other side of the green, he was four down and he conceded after going in another bunker at the 15th.

"He played like a machine a little bit," stated Kaymer. "It was unbelievable - he hits the fairways, all the greens and he makes the putts. It was like a PlayStation. I thought there's maybe a little bit of a chance, but I just didn't see it. He never really opens the door for you and it felt a little bit impossible. He really deserves to become the No 1."

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The other match was heading the way of Nicolas Colsaerts until he reached the same hole, but three-putting there and driving into the bushes on the 16th allowed Poulter to draw level.

The Brussels golfer, still only 108th in the world even after winning his first European Tour title in China last month, holed from 10 feet for a two on the next, but Poulter followed him in from nine.

Then at the last, with Colsaerts on in two, Poulter pitched to five feet, halved in birdie fours and went through when his opponent fluffed a chip at the first extra hole and took a bogey six. "I just kind of hung in there and you just need a bit of momentum," said Poulter, who went to the final green in every one of his five matches en route to the final - including, of course, against Westwood at the last eight stage.

"I think experience was crucial. Nicolas had the upper hand with length (he was the Tour's biggest hitter last season) and I just had to trust my short game."

Being constantly out-driven by 30 yards or more was not something he had to worry about against Donald, but it was still a seesaw battle. After going ahead with a par on the second Donald bogeyed the fourth and fifth, but then came back with a 25-footer at the sixth.

Back and forth it went after that, with Poulter's tumble on the eighth even leaving him without his lucky ball-marker until it was retrieved by a referee. He levelled at the next and again with a 40-footer at the short 12th after bogeying the 226-yard 10th, then went ahead for the second time thanks to a pitch to three feet on the 14th.

Crucially Donald missed from three feet for a three-putt bogey and only a half on the next.