In a year plagued by strange rules infractions, it’s almost fitting that Ian Poulter capped off the year with another one at the Dubai World Championship. On the second playoff hole against Robert Karlsson, Poulter was bending over to replace his ball when he dropped it, causing it to fall and move his “lucky” marker. He was assessed a one-stroke penalty and instead of putting for birdie to force another extra hole, he was going for par and he missed the 40-footer.
Meanwhile, Karlsson only had 3-feet left for birdie, which he easily tapped-in for the win. It was unlikely that Poulter’s gaffe would have changed the outcome, but there was still a chance, especially given Poulter’s mastery on the greens in pressure situations.
“The coin was one way and the next minute facing the other way,” Poulter said. “If it pitches in the middle, the coin doesn’t move and it’s fine, but it’s pitched on the front and it’s flipped over.”
“It was my lucky coin that I made at the start of the year,” he said. “It’s still going to stay lucky.”
Karlsson said after the tournament ended that Poulter had told him of the ruling before they finished the second playoff hole, but he had not been sure the ruling would stand. Regardless, Karlsson’s putt was much shorter.
“These things happen in golf. It’s not the way you want to win,” the 41-year-old Swede said. “The rules are there for a reason but some of them can be tough.”
Poulter earned $833,000 for the runner-up finish, a difference of $417,000 to the first place prize money. If Poulter would have beat Karlsson, he would have finished third on the European Tour money list and received a $750,000 bonus, instead of $600,000 for fourth. So, in the hypothetical situation, Poulter’s blunder might have cost him $567,000 — not that money means as much as a trophy and I doubt that he’s losing any sleep tonight.
Lee Westwood benefited financially from Poulter’s loss and left Dubai $150,000 richer since he managed to stay ahead of Poulter and finish third on the money list.
Poulter’s Twitter pals were quick to see the humor in it all. Rory McIlroy tweeted, “@WestwoodLee Poults may not have won the Dubai world championship, but he could be in with a shout for tiddlywinks world championship!” And new Twitter king Westwood wrote, “Just gave poults a big kiss! He feels better now!” and “If it’s good enough for sparrow legs Dubai tiddlywink champ, it’s good enough for me!”
At least Poults leaves Dubai with a new nickname.