For most of Sunday, Ian Poulter and Paul Casey turned Dove Mountain into a version of the All England Club.
No tennis, no strawberries and cream on the grounds of Wimbledon, though. The two British golfers were the last men standing in the 2010 World Golf Championships – Accenture Match Play Championship, with the dashing Poulter fending off Casey, determined if at least a little weary, 4 and 2 at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club.
Poulter's first win on U.S. soil was worth $1.4 million. Casey was runner-up in Match Play for the second year in a row; he bowed to Geoff Ogilvy in 2009. Casey's lengthy toil – his semifinal match with Camilo Villegas took two days — was worth $850,000.
Colombian Villegas, who fell to Casey very early Sunday morning, came back from that disappointment to handle Spaniard Sergio Garcia, 5 and 4. He won $600,000 for third place. Garcia earned $490,000. In all, the field of 64 was paid $8.5 million.
After a soaked Saturday in the foothills of the Tortolitas, the gallery came out Sunday on a cool, largely overcast day that only dropped water when Poulter finished the tournament on the 16th green, the day's 34th hole, sinking a testy putt to leave no doubt. He hoisted the Walter Hagen Cup, the Waterford Wedgwood trophy "with some amazing names on it. I couldn't be happier.
"I've never felt more comfortable on a golf course," said Poulter afterward.
That easy feeling might apply to his matchless attire as well. He wore pink on Sunday, right down to pink and white golf shoes.
"I think Ian is one of the, shall we say, underappreciated players," said PGA Tour Director Tim Finchem. "In spite of his conservative dress, he is not as well-known in the United States as we'd like him to be."
Commentator Ian Baker-Finch, who hosted the trophy presentation, pointed out that Poulter and Casey are "great mates," teammates on the European Ryder Cup team. "He probably hates me" at the moment, Poulter said of Casey. "Paul's a great guy, he's a helluva player, and a great match player. It's great to see him back in form" after a rib injury hampered Casey's play last year.
Casey battled throughout. After falling four holes down early in the 36-hole finale, he cut the edge back to two, but no closer.
"Poulter played great," Casey said. "There were a lot of shots which I wanted to pull off and I didn't. You know, he did a fantastic job of making putts and keeping the ball in play and he kept the pressure on. And I got beaten."
Poulter, the student, referred to his notebook on nearly every shot, and on every putt. "It's very difficult to actually pick the right line on these greens because a lot of these holes … are cut into the -- kind of into the side of the mountain or the undulation where we are. It's an optical illusion; it actually breaks with the mountain.
"I putted very, very well this week," Poulter said. "I think, yeah, my short game was very, very good. And obviously I made a lot of good up-and-downs at the right time. It kept a lot of pressure on my playing partners this week."
"I must give the grounds crew a really, really heartfelt congratulations," said Baker-Finch. "The golf course presented beautifully."
"It's a great golf course, truly immaculate," Poulter said.
Poulter is now #5 in the world rankings, "an absolute dream position. I'm closer to getting somewhere near Tiger. Hopefully, Tiger comes back on the course soon, and we can battle it out."