NEWCASTLE, England – Andy Ogletree stamped his authority once again on the Asian Tour on Sunday, claiming the US$2 million International Series England after a stunning seven-shot victory – with a tournament total of 16 under.
The American was unstoppable at Close House, near Newcastle, shooting a final round of seven-under 64 – tied for the lowest round of the week – to finish ahead of second-placed Ian Poulter of England, who closed on the same score .
India’s Anirban Lahiri also excelled with a 68 to take sole possession of third, one behind Poulter. Tied for fourth at 7 under were Jason Kokrak, David Puig, Abraham Ancer and Matt Jones.
The top six chasers are all regulars in the LIV Golf League this season. Ogletree is a reserve player looking to return to full-time status for 2024.
This is Ogletree’s third convincing win in the International Series – he triumphed in Qatar three times this year and four in Egypt last season – and cemented his lead in both the Asian Tour and International Series Order of Merits.
“I don’t think I could have done much better than I did this week,” said the 25-year-old, who banked US$360,000.
“The greens were extremely bumpy so it’s hard to say exactly how my set-up was, but I was happy with how I played and the speed control I got down today was awesome. And it was nice to see some fakes come in, so we’ll keep trying to get better every week. My game is in a very good place against a world-class court, I’m very honored to have played the way I did.”
He had a one-stroke lead early in the day, and after bogeying the opening hole, got on the birdie train with birdies on the next hole, four, five and eight.
He uncharacteristically missed a five-foot putt on the ninth that saw him make the turn with a three-shot lead, before storming home unchallenged with two birdies and an eagle on the back nine.
His success is all the more remarkable when you consider that his last event on the Asian Tour was the International Series Vietnam in April, having focused on the LIV Golf League next – the multi-million dollar circuit that offers a guaranteed spot on the International Series Order of Merit leader at the end of the season. Ogletree has a substantial lead over Japan’s Takumi Kanaya through the first five of the 10-event series.
Poulter, playing in the fifth from the final group, cut Ogletree’s lead to five after birdying the opening 16th, only to see the American leader do the same soon after.
Poulter, trying to win for the first time in five years, said: “I just found the key to hit some fakes on those greens, which I didn’t have the first three days. And you know, when you do that and you play good golf like I did the first three days, then you’re going to be able to make some birdies. And that’s what I did today. I made enough ‘birds’ and it was 16 feet by 16 there, and I put it in.”
Lahiri finished second in the International Series Vietnam and backed that up this week.
“Very, very pleased,” said the 2015 Asian Tour Order of Merit champion.
“I think it was probably the top round of the impressive three balls of the year for me, I think I would rate this round better than my Saturday in Bedminster and better than Adelaide. I think I was very, very happy with how I was swinging it. My ball control in the air, my distance control were all spot on. I drove it amazingly. I think the three point is probably the absolute worst score I could get today. Honestly, if my dad put me up today, we would have shot a 65!”
Amateur golfer Luke Poulter, who plays college golf at the University of Florida and is the 19-year-old son of Ian Poulter, capped off an impressive tournament by closing with a 71 to finish tied for 22nd at the level.
“It was amazing,” he said. “I beat him [Ian Poulter] one of the days, it was really nice, but my main goal was to try and beat him this week, but he beat me by nine!”
The Asian Tour travels north of the border next week for the inaugural St Andrews Bay Championship at the Fairmont St Andrews. The $1.5 million starts on Thursday and features a host of names including former Masters champion Sergio Garcia of Spain and American Harold Varner III.
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