Karlsson wins 2-hole playoff at Dubai

Sweden’s Robert Karlsson won the Dubai World Championship

Sunday, defeating third-round leader Ian Poulter in a two-way

playoff after a bizarre marking blunder by the Englishman on the

final hole.

Karlsson calmly rolled in a birdie putt on the second playoff

hole after Poulter was given a one-stroke penalty for dropping his

ball on his marker on the green, causing it to flip over and move

from its original position.

”The coin was one way and the next minutes facing the other

way,” Poulter said. ”It’s pitched right on the front and flipped

over. If it pitches in the middle, the coin doesn’t move and it’s

fine.”

Poulter spotted his error and reported it to the match referee,

whose ruling left him with a long putt for par instead of a birdie.

The putt came up a foot short, taking all the pressure off

Karlsson. He then had two shots to clinch the victory in the

season-ending $7.5 million tournament.

The 41-year-old Karlsson needed just one shot to secure his

second European Tour victory this year and his 11th tour victory of

his career. The former European No. 1 said this was one of his

biggest victory his career and one of the most lucrative, earning

$1.25 million.

It was Karlsson’s third straight birdie on the 18th green,

having caught up to Poulter on his last hole in regulation when his

approach shot landed within a few feet of the pin. He rolled that

in to close with a 5-under 67 and a 14-under total of 274.

Karlsson was aware of the penalty before Poulter putted, and

said he would prefer not won in that fashion.

”These things happen in golf. It’s not the way you want to

win,” he said. ”The rules are there for a reason but some of them

can be tough.”

Poulter had a birdie putt for the victory at the 18th but missed

it to force the playoff, where both players birdied the first

hole.

”Six inches short of the hole, I would have probably put my

house on it,” Poulter said of the putt on the 18th in regulation.

”But it slows down and takes a little bit of grain and misses.

Obviously, a little disappointed.”

Karlsson led after the first round but followed it up with a 75

on Friday to seemingly fall out of contention. But he recovered

with consecutive rounds of 67, and started Sunday with consecutive

birdies. His second shot on the par-4 third landed on the green and

rolled in for an eagle.

He had two more birdies on the back nine before a fine approach

shot almost hit the pin on the 18th, spun back and landed within a

few feet of the hole.

Poulter came into the final round seemingly in control, with a

two shot lead over Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee and fellow

Englishman Ross Fisher. He had the momentum, having won last week’s

Hong Kong Open.

He struggled on the first nine with a bogey and only one birdie.

But the 34-year-old settled down on the back nine, scoring

consecutive birdies and making two pressure par putts on the 16th

and 17th holes.

But with the title on the line, he couldn’t sink a birdie putt

on the 18th and struggled in the playoff.

Karlsson wasn’t in the mix until the final holes, while several

players made an unsuccessful run at leader Poulter until the Swede

tied him on the 18th.

Top-ranked Lee Westwood (68) came up a shot short after his

approach shot to the 18th green landed in the water. Alvaro Quiros

of Spain (67) missed an eagle putt on the 18th that would have

pulled him into the lead.

Westwood and Quiros each finished one stroke behind the leaders

in regulation.

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy had an eagle on the 18th to pull

within two shots of the lead, finishing with a 67.

Martin Kaymer of Germany (72) beat out Northern Ireland’s Graeme

McDowell (68) for the European money titles. They tied for 13th

with 6-under totals of 282, but McDowell needed to finish in the

top three to win the money title.

Given the star-studded leaderboard that included the likes of

No. 1-Lee Westwood, Karlsson’s heroics came as a bit of a surprise.

He came into the tournament admitting his confidence was not high,

following outings in Singapore where he finished 115th and before

that 34th in China.

Still, he said Thursday that he felt the course suited him and

that he was starting to hit the ball well. He also said he finally

had put his medical problems behind him, after suffering a bout of

glandular fever in the spring that kept him out two months and a

debilitating eye problem last year. He said he has been fit since

June.

”I would say probably Memphis was the tournament I felt where I

really started feeling good, but obviously it’s a bit of a buildup,

and especially being off for a while and not playing that great for

a while,” he said. ”So the more often you are there, the more

calm you are under the circumstances.”

Though he was devastated by the turn of events, Poulter admitted

it was scintillating day of golf with some of the best in Europe

all in the mix.

”Looking at the board all the way around, Robert got off to an

incredible start, birdie, birdie, eagle,” Poulter said. ”Westy

made a late charge. It was good fun the whole way around.

”I felt good, hit lots of good golf shots. I made a couple of

key up and downs at the right time. But, you know what, you’re left

walking away disappointed.”