NEWCASTLE, England – Andy Ogletree stamped his authority once again on the Asian Tour on Sunday by claiming the US $2 million International Series England after a stunning seven-stroke victory – with a runaway 16-under tournament total.
The American was unstoppable at Close House, near Newcastle, shooting a final-round seven-under 64 – tying for the lowest round of the week – to finish ahead of second-placed Ian Poulter from England, who closed with the same score.
Indian Anirban Lahiri also excelled, carding a 68, to take sole possession of third, one back from Poulter. Tied for fourth at 7 under were Jason Kokrak, David Puig, Abraham Ancer and Matt Jones.
The top six chasers are all regulars on the LIV Golf League this season. Ogletree is a reserve player who is looking to return to full-time status for 2024.
This is Ogletree’s third convincing International Series victory – he triumphed in Qatar by three this year, and by four in Egypt last season – and it consolidated his lead on both the Asian Tour and International Series Order of Merits.
“I don't think I could hit it much better than I did this week,” said the 25-year-old, who banked US $360,000.
“The greens were super bumpy so it's hard to tell exactly how my putting was, but I was pleased with how I played and my speed control coming down the stretch today was awesome. And it was nice to see a few putts go in, so we're just gonna keep trying to get better every week. My game is in a really good spot against a world-class field, super honored to play the way I did.”
He had a one-stroke advantage at the start of the day, and after brushing off a bogey on the opening hole he boarded the birdie train with birdies on the following hole, four, five and eight.
He uncharacteristically missed a five-foot putt for par on the ninth that saw him make the turn with a three-shot lead, before he stormed home unchallenged with two birdies and an eagle on the back nine.
His success is all the more remarkable considering his last event on the Asian Tour was the International Series Vietnam in April, having focused on the LIV Golf League thereafter – the multi-million dollar circuit that offers a guaranteed spot to the the International Series Order of Merit leader at the end of the season. Ogletree has a substantial leader over Japan's Takumi Kanaya through the first five of the 10-event series.
Poulter, playing in the fifth from last group, closed Ogletree’s lead to five after he eagled the par-five 16th, only to see the American frontrunner do the same soon after.
Poulter, attempting to win for the first time in five years, said: “I just kind of found the key to hitting a few putts on these greens, which I didn't have the first three days. And you know, when you do that and you play good golf like I played the first three days, then you're going to be able to make some birdies. And that's what I did today. I made quite a few ‘birds’, and it was 16 feet on 16 there, and rolled that one 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 that was probably the top-three ball-striking round of the year for me, I think I would rate this round better than my Saturday at Bedminster and better than Adelaide. I think I was very, very happy with how I swung it. My control of the ball in the air, my distance control everything was spot on. I drove it phenomenally. I think three-under is probably the absolute worst score I could have shot today. Honestly, if my dad putted for me 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, completed an impressive tournament by closing with a 71, to finish in a tie for 22nd, on level-par.
“It's been amazing,” he said. “I beat him [Ian Poulter] one of the days, it was really cool but my main goal was to try and beat him this week, but, he got me by nine!”
The Asian Tour journeys north of the border next week for the inaugural St Andrews Bay Championship at Fairmont St Andrews. The US $1.5 million tees off on Thursday and features a host of marquee names, including former Masters champion Sergio Garcia from Spain, and American Harold Varner III.