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Poulter gets a breakthrough victory

Ian Poulter, above, gets his first win on American soil, beating Paul Casey 4 and 2 in the Match Play Championship.

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Ian Poulter, above, gets his first win on American soil, beating Paul Casey 4 and 2 in the Match Play Championship.

MARANA, Ariz. — Dressed in pink on a chilly day in the desert, Ian Poulter captured the biggest victory of his career Sunday by leading the final 28 holes and beating Paul Casey 4 and 2 in the all-England final at the Match Play Championship.

Poulter, 34, won for the first time on American soil.

"It's been a long time coming," Poulter said after closing out Casey with a par on the 34th hole. "I knew I was in great form."

Casey struggled at times with his swing in falling behind, and his short game wasn't good enough to allow him to catch up. He is the first to lose consecutive years in the championship match.

Poulter won for the ninth time on the European Tour (the WGC event is recognized on the PGA and European tours) and moved to a career-best No. 5 in the world ranking. He earned $1.4 million, his biggest prize.

Casey had to return early Sunday morning just to reach the final. Resuming his semifinal match that had been suspended by darkness, Casey won with par after Camilo Villegas hooked his tee shot. Casey won in 24 holes, the longest match of the week.

LPGA: Ai Miyazato rallied to win the Thailand Open in Pattaya, making a 30-foot birdie chip on the final hole for 9-under 63 and a one-stroke victory over Suzann Pettersen in the tour's season opener. Miyazato, six strokes behind Pettersen after the third round, was 6 under in a six-hole stretch midway through the round, then birdied three of the last six holes to match the tournament record of 21-under 267 set by Pettersen in 2007. Pettersen shot 70, missing a 23-foot eagle try on the par-5 18th that would have tied it. "No matter what I did was right,'' Miyazato said. Pettersen said: "There's nothing I can do when Ai shoots 9 under." Seminole's Brittany Lincicome shot 71 and finished tied for 26th at 284.

champions: Bernhard Langer knocked in a bunker shot for eagle on the first playoff hole to beat John Cook for the Allianz Championship title in Boca Raton. Langer and Cook shot 5-under 67s and were at 17-under 199 when they headed to a sudden death playoff on 18. Cook missed an eagle putt, and Langer won $255,500 for his ninth seniors title. "Put me in there 50 times and I probably wouldn't have holed it again," said the Boca Raton resident, who ranked this as his third-best victory. The top two? "The two Masters weren't too shabby," said Langer, who won at Augusta in 1985 and 1993. Tim Simpson (tied for fifth) and Tommy Armour III (tied for ninth) were the co-leaders after two rounds.

pga: Cameron Beckman won the Mayakoba Classic for his third tour title, closing with 3-under 67 for a two-stroke victory over third-round leader Joe Durant and Brian Stuard in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. Beckman, three strokes behind Durant at the start of play, finished at 15-under 269.

Poulter gets a breakthrough victory 02/21/10 [Last modified: Sunday, February 21, 2010 9:25pm]

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