Poulter sprints to Saturday finish


PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Well, that was one way to curb slow play.

Knowing the horn was about to blow, signifying the end of Saturday’s play at The Players Championship, Ian Poulter had one goal in mind.

Tee off the final hole, so he could finish the round.

So Poulter did what needed to be done. He hit his tee shot on the par-3 17th hole, sprinted to the green, tended his own flagstick, putted out, then sprinted to the 18th teebox and hit a drive just behind Phil Mickelson and Martin Laird in the group ahead.

Here’s the rationale behind such a move: By teeing off the 18th before the horn sounded, Poulter and playing partner Dustin Johnson were able to finish their round on Saturday night. The alternative would have been to come back at 7:45 a.m. to play the final hole.

“I saved us probably – with a 7:45 restart, that’s a 5:30 wakeup call, so that’s four more hours in bed,” Poulter explained. “A little 300-yard sprint is well worth it for four hours in bed.”

Poulter acknowledged that not only had he and Johnson been discussing it during the round, but the twosome ahead was well aware, too.

“We were discussing it on the 16th tee,” he said. “Phil was waiting and said, ‘If you have to tee off, just give us a shout.’ I think quite a few guys in that situation would have done exactly the same thing.”

Poulter made par on the 17th hole and though he bogeyed 18, he did hit what he believed to be his longest drive ever on the hole.

“That was pumped,” he said with a laugh. “That thing was out there. I don’t think I’ve ever hit sand-iron into 18 before, so there’s something to be said for adrenaline.”

Meanwhile, Johnson was just a long for the ride, able to capitalize on Poulter’s late-round efforts by finishing before dark.

Asked what his playing partner owed him for his troubles, Poulter didn’t hesitate, instead quickly answering, “A beer.”