By Scott MacLeod, via www.flagstick.com
They both draw plenty of attention to themselves, but not always for their golfing abilities. Ian Poulter, the King of the fashion statement and Dustin Jonson, the PGA Tour’s hard luck story of 2010, teamed up Sunday to win The Shark Shootout in Naples, Florida.
Much had been made of the pairing of Ryder Cup rivals this week that was initiated by Poulter. The Englishman had a good look at the field and who had committed and set about nudging Johnson towards forming a partnership. Obviously it worked out as their finishing score of 30 under par was two better than their nearest competitors, Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland.
Poulter, coming off a recent streak of successful play was more than pleased to finish off his 2010 with another win, even if it is an event meant more to support charity than anything else. “Sure, I mean, it was a good day today. I figured playing with Darren and G-Mack they were gonna go at us pretty hard; they did. We made a lot of birdies today, hit a lot of good golf shots, holed a couple of good putts at just the right time, and it gave us a lot of momentum going into the back nine to make a few birdies to finish it off.”
Johnson was equally pleased with the victory, capped off by a final round of 59 played in a Scramble format. “Yeah, well, we got off to a good start, which is what we wanted to do. We birdied the first four and then parred 5, but 5 was playing really tough, the par 3. We did exactly what we wanted to do. We played really well. We did miss a short putt on 9; that was the only putt we missed on the front, really. We had a lot of good momentum going into the back nine. I didn't know where we stood until we were about on No. 9 when I asked my caddie where we were at, and he said we were leading. We knew we just needed it keep making birdies, and we did.”
As much as they tried McDowell and the veteran Clarke could not catch the flashy pairing along their side. They managed to get within two strokes through 12 holes in the final round but the leaders would not fall back. While McDowell and Clarke threw in birdies on the 13th and 14th holes, the leaders matched their efforts.
Clarke hit his best shot of the week on the 15th, an approach to within inches of the cup that made for an easy birdie but Poulter was able to pour in a birdie putt to keep the momentum in his team’s favor. “You know, that was it. That was tough,” said Clarke’s of Poulter’s response with his putter.
Will we see the pairing in another event again?
Ian Poulter did not discount the possibility in a post round interview. “It works well. I'm happy with it. You know, I'll just nudge it down the fairway, that's fine. It opened everything up for my partner, and I think we've got good games to match as this format pans out.”
For their win Johnson and Poulter won $375,000 each as well as the opportunity to return and try and repeat the win in 2011.
Finishing in a tie for 3rd place was defending champions Jerry Kelly and Steve Stricker at 26 under par. They shared those honors with Chris DiMarco and Anthony Kim.
This report provided to GolfWRX.com by Canada’s Flagstick Golf Magazine (www.flagstick.com)