|Houston Open final leaderboard|
|-19 I Poulter (Eng) wins after play-off, B Hossler (US); -16 J Spieth (US), E Grillo (Arg); -15 S Ryder (US); -14 H Stenson (Swe), K Mitchell (US)|
|Selected others: -13 P Dunne (Ire); -12 S Lowry (Ire); -10 P Mickelson (US); -8 R Fowler (US); -7 J Rose (Eng); -2 E Els (SA) -1 L Westwood (Eng)|
Ian Poulter secured a place at the Masters after a dramatic play-off victory over Beau Hossler at the Houston Open in Texas.
The 42-year-old Englishman had forced a sudden death play-off after he sunk a lengthy birdie putt at the 18th to finish at 19 under alongside Hossler.
The pair replayed the par-four final hole and American Hossler, 23, chipped out of a bunker into the water.
Poulter then kept his cool and two-putted for par to secure victory.
The event was Poulter’s last remaining chance to qualify for the tournament in Augusta which starts on Thursday.
A week ago he was told he had already qualified for the Masters having reached the last eight at the World Golf Championships Match Play.
However, he was then informed 10 minutes before his quarter-final match against Kevin Kisner that he actually needed to reach the semi-finals to earn his Masters place – and he subsequently lost 8&6 to the American.
“Last week was painful. To come here this week I was tired and frustrated. I had packed my bags to leave on Friday night, and had a mental switch,” Poulter said.
“I was patient, I waited my time and this is amazing. I haven’t won a strokeplay event in the United States before and to do it this week is amazing.
“This one is for my wife Katie. The last few years have been tough, I’ve been injured and there’s been stuff going on and she’s the reason why I’m here.”
Poulter’s victory came in the wake of a recent decision to use the putter which brought him fame at the ‘Miracle of Medinah’ in 2012.
He was tied with Hossler at 14 under going into the final round and had led after four birdies and a bogey in the front nine.
However, he was unable to replicate that in the back nine where Hossler made four birdies to have a one-shot lead heading into the final hole.
Hossler’s putt for a birdie missed the hole by millimetres to leave Poulter with the chance to take the match to a play-off.
Poulter, who had been tied for 123rd after a one-over 73 in the first round, kept his nerve as he putted from 20 feet which prompted a passionate show of emotion as he beat his chest in celebration.
Hitchin-born Poulter’s best performance at the Masters came in 2015 when he finished tied sixth in the year Jordan Spieth equalled the lowest winning score to win his first major.
He has never won one of golf’s majors with a second-placed finish at the Open in 2008 behind Padraig Harrington his best to date.
Analysis – ‘One of the finest wins of his career’
BBC golf correspondent Iain Carter
Having interviewed a crestfallen Poulter in Austin a little over a week ago, it is astonishing to now see him celebrating one of the finest wins of his career.
His heavy quarter-final defeat by Kevin Kisner at the WGC Matchplay was an absolute sickener, especially as he had been erroneously told he had already done enough to qualify for the Masters.
He was unsure whether he would even bother going to Houston to try to win the final ticket to Augusta and must have wondered why he bothered after a first-round 73. Thereafter, Poulter played magnificently to remind us of his immense competitive spirit.
Not only does this win take him to the Masters, it also secures his PGA Tour future and allows him to take a significant stride towards a return to Europe’s Ryder Cup team. Skipper Thomas Bjorn would be thrilled to have an in-form Poulter in his team.