PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Ian Poulter was left shaking his head and wondering how this one slipped away.
Poulter began the final round of the Honda Classic with a three-shot lead, but seemingly found every available hazard lining the Champion Course at PGA National. After depositing two balls in the water through the seven holes he played Sunday before darkness, Poulter hit three more shots into the water during Monday’s finish.
The final blow came on No. 14, where Poulter hit both his tee shot and approach shot into the same pond, leading to a triple bogey. After a 4-over 74, the Englishman finished one shot out of a playoff between Daniel Berger and eventual winner Padraig Harrington.
“It’s a shame,” Poulter said. “There’s lots of pluses with how I’ve played all week, but there’s nothing like handing the golf tournament away. It makes you feel pretty sick.”
Poulter’s issues began with a shanked 8-iron on the par-3 fifth hole Sunday, and he continued to have trouble with he described as “soft shots,” including an approach into the water on No. 11 Monday that led to a double bogey.
“The fact is that I should be able to hit a soft 8-iron and not shank it, and I should be able to hit a soft 7-iron without pushing it 15 yards,” Poulter said. “The weakness is, occasionally when I hit that soft shot, it doesn’t come off. That was the result of what happened. Some I played nicely and some I didn’t, and the ones that I didn’t have cost me dearly.”
While Poulter still has not won on the PGA Tour since the 2012 WGC-HSBC Champions, this week’s T-3 is his best result on U.S. soil since he tied for third at the 2012 PGA Championship.
“The good’s good. The good’s good enough to win, I know that. I’ve known that for a long time,” he said. “It’s just bitterly disappointing…I’ve handed one away this week, and you know it’s going to hurt because making triples and doubles just doesn’t get it done, and it’s a shame.”