A marker that lost its charm
Mark Garrod looks back at the Ian Poulter lucky marker incident at the Dubai World Championship on Sunday
Anybody who has closely followed the career of Ian Poulter might remember the bizarre incident in Florida when his physio jumped into a lake to find his lucky ball.
Now there is another lucky item to add to the collection – but one that he is not finding very funny right now.
Poulter, who needed to sink an extremely difficult putt of some 30 feet as against the 4-foot ‘sitter’ facing Robert Karlsson simply to keep the play-off alive, will always believe, rightly or wrongly, that dropping his ball on his “lucky” marker on Sunday cost him the Dubai World Championship – and a sum of over £352,000, this being the difference between winning the Championship play-off and losing it as he did to former Ryder Cup team-mate Karlsson.
The marker actually flipped over on the second green of their sudden death shoot-out, costing him a one-shot penalty.
And, inevitably, it was not long before the jokes started coming in at his expense.
“Receiving a little banter from the boys,” he was soon reporting on his Twitter site.
Rory McIlroy, for example, said: “Poults may not have won the Dubai world championship, but he could be in with a shout for the tiddlywinks world championship!”
Another was sent to Poulter from Lee Westwood, thanking him for the extra £93,203 bonus pool money he earned as a result.
“Just gave Poults a big kiss – he feels better now!” said Westwood, who would have dropped to fourth on the European Tour “Race to Dubai” if Poulter had won the tournament.
The difference between first and second in the event was almost £258,000, but because he still picked up over £517,000 and another £372,000 from the bonus pool the pain might not last too long.
And Karlsson would most likely have won the play-off in any case.
He was only four feet away compared to Poulter’s 30, but having two shots to makle the putt after Poulter left his par attempt short made it a whole lot easier for the Swede, who duly sank made his birdie.
“I’ve heard of it happening before, but not to me,” said Poulter, who would also have risen to seventh in the world rather than eighth.
Asked how frustrating it was, the 34-year-old added: “About 20 world ranking points (23 actually), a lovely trophy and about USD400,000 – that much frustrating.
“It’s a shame it’s just ended the way it has and it’s not a consolation for me that Robert holed the putt in any case.
“It’s a strange rule because if I had dropped the ball on the middle of the marker and it had not moved there’s no penalty.
“But I should not drop my ball on it. It’s been my lucky marker since the start of the year and has got my kids’ names on.
“There are always positives, but right now I’m not seeing them.”
Poulter had missed a 15-footer on the same green in regulation play, while Karlsson birdied it three times in a row – all with pitches to four feet or less.
Defending champion Westwood shared third place with Alvaro Quiros and stays world number one, with Martin Kaymer coming joint 13th.
The 25-year-old German was still celebrating, though. Because Graeme McDowell finished alongside him he took the money list title and becomes the Tour’s youngest number one since Ronan Rafferty in 1989.
“It’s been a fantastic year,” Kaymer said. “All of the goals I set for myself for my career happened this year – to win the Race to Dubai, to play the Ryder Cup and to win a major.”
McDowell also did two of those, of course, and as the man who won the Ryder Cup as well as the US Open he might well take the BBC Sports Peronality of the Year award.
“It’s been a dream season and it just so happened that Martin had an unbelievable season as well,” the Northern Irishman said.
“It’s just been a great year for European golf and I’m just very proud to be part of that.
“My greatest moment was the putt on the 16th (at Celtic Manor). There’s nothing like the Ryder Cup.”
What happened to Poulter will be the abiding memory of the last round of the Tour season, though.
Karlsson said: “It was a strange day to say the least. To start birdie-birdie-eagle is not what you expect to happen when you are three behind.
“Then there was the one-shot penalty. It’s not the way you want to win, but these things happen in golf.
“The rules are there for a reason, but some of them look very hard at stages. In one way that’s the purity of the game.”
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