Luke Donald missed the chance to make history and was again denied becoming World No.1 as the battle of the matchplay specialists ended in an Ian Poulter victory in the Volvo-sponsored event in Spain..
Donald, who won the WGC-Matchplay Championship in February, was aiming for an unprecedented double which would have seen him replace Lee Westwood atop the rankings.
But Poulter had other ideas, inflicting his countryman’s first defeat in this format since the opening day of October’s Ryder Cup with a 2&1 victory at Finca Cortesin.
Earlier in the day, Donald had beaten Martin Kaymer – his opponent in the final in Arizona – 5&3 while Poulter came back from two down with four to play against Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts to win at the first extra hole to set up the all-English final.
And the 35-year-old needed all those fighting qualities to beat his compatriot. Donald took an early lead at the second, but Poulter replied with an eagle and a birdie at four and five, before a Donald birdie at six took it back to all-square.
Poulter conceded the eighth, won the ninth and lost the tenth as the tussle looked set to go right to the wire. But after drawing level at 12 with a 40-foot putt, the Hertfordshire golfer went ahead at 14 and was then 2-up after a stunning approach shot to two feet on the 464-yard 16th.
A half on the next was good enough to ensure his first title since the Hong Kong Open in November and the £700,000 prize money - on his son Luke’s birthday.
“I thought it would be pretty special to win this,” said Poulter. “Happy birthday Luke!
“I finally started holing some putts. I’ve been frustrated for a few months and you have to hole putts to win.”
Donald added: “It was disappointing - I ran out of steam a bit and didn’t take the opportunities I had.”
Poulter’s win moves him back into the top 20 in the world.
World Matchplay Championship Final Results
Semi Final (Sunday AM)
L Donald (Eng) beat M Kaymer (Ger) 5&3
I Poulter (Eng) beat N Colsaerts (Bel) at the 19th hole
Final (Sunday PM)
I Poulter (Eng) beat L Donald (Eng) 2&1