Golf: Long shot Poulter gets WGC place after whirlwind two weeks

Ian Poulter hitting a shot at the Hong Kong Open on Oct 24, 2015.
Ian Poulter hitting a shot at the Hong Kong Open on Oct 24, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

SHANGHAI (AFP) - Ian Poulter has been added to the field for golf's WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai this week, after a bizarre turn of events concluded a whirlwind fortnight for the Englishman.

Ryder Cup talisman Poulter dashed halfway around the world two weeks ago to play in the Hong Kong Open after being nudged out of the world's top 50, the qualifying mark for World Golf Championships events.

It meant he had not qualified for Shanghai and would not therefore meet the minimum requirement of 13 European Tour events needed to keep his Tour membership card.

Only members can qualify for Europe's Ryder Cup team, so Poulter endured a 14,500km last-minute charge across 13 time zones from Florida to Hong Kong.

He finally turned up late on the eve of the event without a caddie and no time to practise, after former US PGA champion Rich Beem graciously gave up his sponsor's invite to play in the event.

Poulter subsequently fell short of the win he needed in Hong Kong to qualify for the WGC-HSBC Champions, Asia's richest tournament, and headed to last week's Turkish Airlines Open resigned to missing one of his favourite events in which he has played all 10 previous editions in China.

The 39-year-old was sixth reserve for the final WGC event of the year with seemingly no chance of participation.

But fate dealt a hand and the first four reserves were drafted in to complete the 78-man field.

Then George Coetzee of South Africa withdrew from the US$8.5 million (S$11.9 million) event beginning at Sheshan Golf Club on Thursday, giving first reserve Tyrrell Hatton of England a place.

And when American Brandt Snedeker then pulled out at the weekend with a hip injury, second-reserve Poulter was suddenly back in.

"I guess it was meant to be," he tweeted. "I found a voucher in a Willy Wonka Chocolate bar.

"If you wrote it no one would believe the story... It's bloody crazy," added the grateful player, who now has the chance to add a second WGC-HSBC Champions title to the one he won at Shenzhen in 2012.