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GOLF / CHEVRON WORLD CHALLENGE

Ian Poulter has to settle for a tie

He shoots a 68 at Sherwood Country Club, despite a double bogey on the last hole.

December 04, 2009|By Jim Peltz

Ian Poulter is still looking for his first victory on the PGA Tour, but in the meantime he'll gladly settle for winning the Chevron World Challenge and its $1.35-million prize.

First, though, he'll have to master the 18th hole at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, where the Englishman gave away sole possession of the tournament's first-round lead Thursday.

Poulter double-bogeyed the hole after a wayward tee shot into the right-side trees, forcing him to settle for a four-under-par 68 and a share of the lead with Zach Johnson.

"Yeah, I'm leading, but I should have been way clear," Poulter said, referring to the other 17 players in what is commonly called "Tiger's tournament" because it benefits Tiger Woods' charity.

Woods, a four-time winner of his event, was scheduled to play again until his personal problems this week sparked a worldwide media sensation and prompted the world's No. 1 golfer to scratch his appearance.

"Obviously it's disappointing that Tiger can't be with us," Poulter said, but he added that "the focus for me this week is to go out there and win the golf tournament."

Poulter and Johnson held a one-shot lead over three-time major winner Padraig Harrington, and three golfers were two shots behind at 70: Y.E. Yang, this year's PGA Championship winner; Stewart Cink, this year's British Open winner, and Jim Furyk, who led this tournament after two rounds last year.

Although he has yet to win a PGA Tour event, Poulter was second in this year's Players Championship and has seven European Tour victories.

Playing in the final twosome on a cool, sunny day, Poulter went out with a five-under 31 on the front nine.

He hit a seven-iron to within six feet of the cup on the par-three 15th hole and dropped the putt to go six under.

Then came his gaffe on the 18th, where his three-wood tee shot went into the trees.

He punched out with an eight-iron but hit it too far to the right, landing on a cart path.

After a drop, he hit his approach shot on the green but three-putted from 35 feet.

That gave a share of the lead to Johnson, the 2007 Masters champion who said the condition of the Jack Nicklaus-designed Sherwood course was "fantastic" with "spongy" greens that held approach shots.

"They've done a great job with the golf course," he said of the 7,027-yard Sherwood layout, which winds through canyons in the tony Lake Sherwood area at the base of the Santa Monica Mountains.

Harrington is the only player among the tournament's 10 previous winners who's in the field again this year.

james.peltz@latimes.com

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