Poulter trailed three times before winning by two holes with one to play, or 2-and-1, at Finca Cortesin Golf Club in Costa del Sol, Spain. Poulter also won the World Golf Championships match play event in 2010 in Arizona.
“It’s pretty special,” Poulter told Sky Sports. “I didn’t play my best today. I think I managed to hole some putts at the right time and in this game you have to hole putts to win.”
Second-ranked Donald, who won the WGC match play title in February, would have taken over from Lee Westwood as the world No. 1 with a victory. Donald beat No. 3 Martin Kaymer of Germany 5-and-3 in this morning’s semifinals and Poulter ousted Westwood in yesterday’s round of 16.
“It was disappointing,” Donald told Sky Sports. “I wouldn’t mind losing if I had played well, but I didn’t play well. That will leave a sour taste in my mouth.”
Poulter fell behind after a bogey on the second hole and pulled level with a birdie at No. 4. He got another birdie at the next to go in front only to see Donald win the sixth with a 25-foot birdie putt.
Donald went back in front at the eighth after Poulter hit his tee shot into bushes and fell down a bank trying to hack his way out before conceding the hole.
Poulter pulled even at the ninth and after Donald won the 10th, his opponent again drew level with a birdie on the par-3 12th.
Lead for Good
Poulter took the lead for good with a birdie at the 14th hole and went 2 up after another birdie at No. 16. He sealed the win with a seven-foot putt at the 17th.
Poulter, who dedicated the win to his son Luke, who’s celebrating his seventh birthday today, earned 800,000 euros ($1.2 million) for his first victory since the Hong Kong Open in November.
“It’s a nice boost,” said Poulter, who was ranked 22nd in the world entering the tournament. “There’s been a lot of questions asked over the first five months of the year.”
Donald, who remains second to Westwood in the ranking, received 430,000 euros.