February 23, 2011
In 2010, Ian Poulter played 124 holes at the Accenture Match Play before hoisting the biggest trophy of his career in Arizona. This year he leaves after just 19, becoming the early upset of the week with a loss to Stewart Cink. The three-seeded Poulter was never down in the match until the last putt dropped, holding a 1-up lead after 16 holes before Cink made a birdie on the 17th, saved himself from a poor wedge shot on 18 and then nearly holed out for eagle on the first playoff hole before rolling that in for a birdie and the win.
Poulter, a guy some idiot picked to win the whole thing before the event started, said he loves this event, and believes match play keeps him invested longer in rounds than stroke play, but he couldn't hold off Cink, who didn't have his best stuff for most of the first round in Marana, Ariz.
Actually, it hasn't seemed that Poulter has had his best stuff on American soil since that win here a year ago. Since his victory in '10, Poulter has exactly two top 10s on the PGA Tour, with one coming just a few weeks after last year at the Masters. He has won an event on the European Tour since, but for a guy that considers himself one of the best in the world, is sure seems he hasn't been anywhere close to that for the last year.
But it's another example of why match play is so great. The defending champion draws a tough opponent in the first round, and the guy just hangs around long enough for one good swing to save him the match.
Cink stays, Poulter goes, and the tournament continues.
(Also, I didn't mention the words "Twitter," "Twitter battle," or "Twitter feud" in that whole post ... I deserve some blogging medal or something.)