Tired Ian Poulter falters at final nine as Jon Rahm enjoys first win on home turf

James Corrigan
The Telegraph
Ian Poulter's grimace describes his disappointing time at Hilton Head - Getty Images North America
Ian Poulter's grimace describes his disappointing time at Hilton Head - Getty Images North America

Ian Poulter’s hopes of lifting a second PGA Tour title in three weeks came crashing down at Hilton Head when the Englishman suffered a calamitous final nine holes.

The resurgent 42-year-old led after three rounds of the RBC Heritage and, after birdieing the ninth, was still in the hunt on 13 under, one stroke behind Korean Kim ­Si-woo. But the form which won him his first event in six years in Houston suddenly deserted him as he came back in five over.

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Poulter’s 75 left him on nine under in a tie for seventh, as Kim was eventually beaten in a play-off by Japan’s Satoshi Kodaira, with another Englishman in Matt Fitzpatrick in a tie for 14th on eight under.

Of course, this was not the finish Poulter was looking for but, as he heads into a mini-break, he will still take so much from the recent spell in which he has re-entered the all-important world top 50 and re-established his Ryder Cup credentials.

This was Poulter’s sixth week of tournament play in a row and, for the intense ­competitor who makes a point of limiting himself to a maximum of three events in succession, it was clear that fatigue had finally taken over.

<span>Spaniard <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/pga/players/18796/" data-ylk="slk:Jon Rahm">Jon Rahm</a> wins his first professional title on home soil</span> <span>Credit: Getty Images </span>
Spaniard Jon Rahm wins his first professional title on home soil Credit: Getty Images

On the European Tour, an emotional Jon Rahm won his first professional title on home soil at the Open de Espana. The world No 4 shot a 67 to finish on 20 under par and, although the details of his two-shot win over Ireland’s Paul Dunne may make it seem as if this was a ­comfortable success, it was anything but.

With huge galleries at Centro Nacional de Golf in Madrid willing on the 23-year-old – who finished fourth at the Masters the previous weekend – to emulate the likes of Seve Ballesteros and Sergio Garcia in winning his national title, the pressure seemed to have got to Rahm when his tee-shot on the par-three 17th appeared destined for the water.

But unlike the ball of ­Nacho Elvira, the countryman who had emerged as his strongest challenger, it somehow stayed on the bank and after birdieing the 18th, Rahm celebrated his third European Tour win by hugging his grandmother on the green.

“It’s been the hardest Sunday I’ve ever had in any tournament I’ve won because the crowd wanted it so much and I wanted it so much,” Rahm said. “I’ve been blessed to be national [amateur] champion from 16 to all ages in Spain, so being able to win this as a pro and do this for the Spanish people feels great.”

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