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English golf on ultimate high

Sam Torrance
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THERE were two big winners at the WGC Match Play at Tucson this weekend – champion Ian Poulter and European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie.

Poulter’s victory in the first all-English final with Paul Casey capped a fantastic weekend for golf on these shores and would have left Monty beaming from ear-to-ear with his near-certainties for Celtic Manor clearly relishing the match play conditions.

Poulter played like a legend all weekend. He produced a performance of sheer guts to beat Sergio Garcia in the semi-final and looked almost unbeatable in subjecting his good mate Casey to a second successive final defeat. I felt a bit sorry for Casey. The change in the weather turned the match against him with the windier conditions suiting Poulter’s lower ball flight.

So, for the first time we now have three English players in the world’s top six – unprecedented since records began. Just 10 years ago, Lee Westwood was the only Englishman in the world’s top 100; now we have Westwood, Poulter and Casey at four, five and six in the world. All three are playing the golf of their lives right now and seem to be feeding off one another.

Unfortunately, the WGC event played second fiddle on Friday to Tiger Woods’ announcement and that was sad to see. Whatever has happened, the timing of Tiger’s press conference was an insult to tournament sponsors Accenture. He could have done it yesterday.

Regular readers of this column will remember I predicted Tiger would be back for the Masters in April, and I still wouldn’t be surprised to see him at Augusta.

This year’s Majors are being played at venues that suit Tiger perfectly and if he really harbours hopes of surpassing Jack Nicklaus’ 18 Majors, he won’t want to miss out.