DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- So, four days of battle in the desert of Dubai came down to the toss of a coin on the 18th green. And Sweden's Robert Karlsson was eventually declared winner of the $1.25 million first prize at the Dubai World Championship. The coin was Ian Poulter's ball marker, and it flipped over after the Englishman dropped his ball on it. One-shot penalty. Game over. "It was my lucky marker, too," he said taking defeat graciously. "Shame it has just ended the way it has. Hey-ho," he said shrugging his shoulders.
The Swede said he felt sympathy for Poulter. "Those things happen in golf," Karlsson said. "It's not the way you want to win. It's very harsh. In one way, that's the purity of the game. We have harsh rules and actually follow them, compared to some other sports. That's the beauty of the game in one way. But it's not great when these things happen, especially under these circumstances."
This was Karlsson's second victory of the year and a welcome return to form for the 2008 European No.1. He spent much of 2009 and early 2010 suffering with glandular fever and with fluid in his left eye. "My vision was like when you come up from being underwater -- all fuzzy," he said.
He started the final round three shots behind overnight leader Poulter but got off to a flier. He started birdie, birdie, eagle -- holing an 8-iron to take the lead. But it took a holed putt on the 18th and a wait on the range to see if anyone could pass him. "I didn't know if I needed to hole it or anything," Karlsson said. "So it was probably better that way for me." Poulter's birdie chance at the last shaved the hole. Playoff. Poulter's coin clanger. Victory. "It's a strange day," Karlsson said.
The amiable, deep-thinking Karlsson once called himself a quitter. But he has turned into a fighter. "I was an angry golfer for a while, but now I am European No. 1," he said in 2008. "I worked it out." And now he has done it again. -- Paul Mahoney