PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Ian Poulter values his sleep.
Rather than getting stranded on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass as darkness fell Saturday night, necessitating an early call for a 7:45 a.m. restart Sunday, Poulter left playing partner Dustin Johnson and sprinted to his ball on the 17th green, where he quickly two-putted for par and sprinted to the 18th tee. Poulter got the attention of Martin Laird and Phil Mickelson in the group ahead, who got out of the way while Poulter hit his all-important 18th tee shot of the day.
The horn blew at 8:04 p.m., but since players have the option of finishing the hole they’ve started, not only did Laird, Mickelson and Poulter finish, so did Johnson. Even though he was back putting on the 17th green, he was considered to have started the 18th hole because his playing partner had.
“Saved us probably a 7:45 restart, I think it is,” Poulter said. “So that’s a 5:30 wake-up call. That’s four hours in bed. A little 300-yard sprint is well worth four hours in bed.”
A four-and-a-half-hour rainstorm that scattered patio furniture outside the mammoth clubhouse at TPC Sawgrass led to Poulter’s rushed Usain Bolt impression. The jaunty Englishman said he knew well in advance that it was going to be close as to whether he finished his round.
“We were waiting on the 16th tee,” Poulter said, “and Phil was waiting and just came over and said to us, ‘Listen, if you have to tee off, just give us a shout.'”
Although he bogeyed 18, Poulter took some satisfaction out of his massive drive, which hugged the water line and left him with only a sand wedge in for his second shot.
“Something to be said about adrenaline,” he said.
After his round, Poulter, who has almost 1.2 million followers on Twitter, responded to criticism in the online forum that his sprint was disrespectful to Mickelson and Laird. Paul Azinger, another player active on Twitter, agreed.