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Karlsson Beats Poulter in Playoff to Win Dubai World Championship


Robert Karlsson closed with a 5-under 67 to tie third-round leader Ian Poulter, then the Swede birdied the second playoff hole to win the Dubai World Championship.

Poulter shot a 70 in the final round Jumeirah Golf Estates, allowing Karlsson to tie him in regulation at 14-under 274. After both players birdied the first playoff hole - the par-5 18th - Karlsson did it again the second time around while the Englishman carded a bogey after incurring a strange one-shot penalty when his ball slipped from his hand as he was re-marking the ball on the green and flipped his coin over.

As Poulter explained later: "Bizarrely, (his caddie) handed me the ball back and I've gone to mark the ball, and literally the ball slipped from two or three inches above the coin. And it's pitched right on the front of the coin and the coin flipped over. One-shot penalty."

The penalty was confirmed by European Tour official Andy McFee. "I called him over," Poulter added. "The coin was one way and the next minutes facing the other way. 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. But it's pitched on the front and it's flipped over."

The victory was worth $1.5 million; Poulter settled for $833,330.

Karlsson was very pleased to get the win, especially against such a high-caliber field. "If you just look on the quality of the field that's been here, world No. 1, world number 3 or 4 or whatever it is. It's a fantastic field, and obviously when we have all of the best players in Europe together, the way it looks now, it's going to be a great field; so to win here is fantastic." (See below for his full post-round interview.)

As expected, Poulter's emotions were at the other end of the spectrum, especially since he played so well prior to the final round. "Looking at the board all the way around, Robert got off to an incredible start, birdie, birdie, eagle," Poulter said.

"(Westwood) 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."

Martin Kaymer, who carded a 72 in the last round and finished tied for 13th at 6-under 282, won the European Tour's season-long Race to Dubai. He also was awarded the Harry Vardon Trophy and earned a seven-year European Tour Card exemption.

Kaymer's closest pursuer, U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell, couldn't catch the 25-year-old German despite closing with a 68 and ending up tied with Kaymer at 13th.

"I'm very satisfied with my year," Kaymer said afterward. "I couldn't lose anything, I was just playing for results today, and aimed to finish as high as possible."

Lee Westwood (68) and Spain's Alvaro Quiros (67) ended up tied for third at 13-under 275.

After signing his scorecard and collecting his winner's check, Karlsson met with reporters for the following interview.

MODERATOR: Robert, the 2010 Dubai World Champion. How are you feeling right now?

ROBERT KARLSSON: That sounds pretty good, you can say it again if you want (smiling).

MODERATOR: Robert Karlsson, 2010 Dubai World Champion, quite an eventful afternoon out there, obviously very tight playoff. Talk us through your emotions as the afternoon unfolded.

ROBERT KARLSSON: It's a strange day to say the least. You start birdie, birdie, birdie, eagle. And the eagle was on a par-4. It's not what you expect to happen when you're three behind. But it's not always that easy. I made a couple of mistakes. I 3-putted three holes in the span of four or five holes. It was important after that to come back and start playing my own golf again and made a few birdies around the turn which was great. I didn't have a clue at any stage. I saw in the corner of my eye a couple of times what the leaderboard was looking like. I saw I was 13 or 14. I didn't know who, but you hear it from the crowds. And the putt on the 18th, my first time around, I was just trying to hole it. I didn't know if I needed to hole it or get in the playoff or anything, so probably better that way for me.

MODERATOR: You've been European No. 1, and now won the climax to the season. Where does this achievement rank?

ROBERT KARLSSON: It's a separate event. This must be the highest one I would think if you just look on the quality of the field that's been here, world No. 1, world number 3 or 4 or whatever it is. It's a fantastic field, and obviously when we have all of the best players in Europe together, the way it looks now, it's going to be a great field; so to win here is fantastic.

Q. Were you aware of the penalty that was imposed on Poulter on the second 18?

ROBERT KARLSSON: Yeah, before he hit his putt I was, yeah. His caddie told me that it might be, and I was pretty certain that he didn't get one actually because I thought it's a bit of a tricky ruling. And Andy McFee told me, yes, it's definitely a one-shot penalty, and obviously my putt got quite a bit shorter.

Q. And how important was the start, and can you tell us what did you do on the third?

ROBERT KARLSSON: I mean, I hit two good shots on the first which is probably the most important. I knocked in a seven-foot putt, made a great up-and-down on 2 to birdie that, and I actually missed my 8-iron slightly right on the third. You don't want it miss it right of the flag, but just sort of popped over the hill, and you know if it starts running towards the hole -- I probably walked 30, 40 yards before I saw the ball appear from the right; and I heard the crowd (cheering), and I saw it disappear, so it was great. Like I said it's not always that easy, because you go from three behind to one or two ahead, and there's many holes to go, and everything is going your way. So it's not all that easy.

Q. Did you feel for Poulter? A silly little thing to happen.

ROBERT KARLSSON: Those things happens in golf. Of course, I mean, it's not the way you want to win, but that happens sometimes. I mean, we are playing off the rules and sometimes you get penalized for it and those sort of things happen. But, you know, there's not much to do.

Q. Do you think golf does itself favors, little rulings like that, that he wasn't seeking an advantage?

ROBERT KARLSSON: Well, I'm probably not the right person to say those sort of things. The rules are there for a reason, but obviously some of them look very, very harsh at some stages. I mean, a very similar one with Colin a couple of weeks ago, also very, very harsh. That's the -- in one way, the purity of the game; that we have very harsh rules and we actually follow them, compared to some other sports. So that's the beauty of the game in one way. But obviously it's not great when these sort of things happen, especially not under these circumstances.

Q. It was a very congested leaderboard all day and you were playing ahead of the overnight leaders. When you came in with 14-under, did you think that was going to be good enough, or did you think maybe one or two shots?

ROBERT KARLSSON: When I holed it on 18, and I saw I was 14-under and Poulter just had a couple of holes to go, I think he only had one hole to go with 14-under. You know I could be lone second, playoff or I can win; that's just the way it is. And I just went straight to the driving range and tried to focus on not sort of letting it go. I still have golf to play. That's the mind-set you have to keep going and just hit a few shots. Kept up with the 18th hole, what was happening and as soon as I heard it was very quiet when he hit his putt on 18, I knew, got to keep playing, tournament is not over yet.

Q. Did you watch Lee have a go for it on the last?

ROBERT KARLSSON: Yeah, of course. I was playing with him. But I mean, the 18th hole is very, very difficult because the rough over the back is not great. So I mean, if you hit a great second shot, you might stop it. Otherwise you have a very tricky chip from the back, especially where if you are long and left, because the mound there, they are starting to get very brown now, the greens, and very firm. The down-grain, it's very quick. So I mean, even if I would have had a chance, I probably had to have a perfect yardage with a 5-wood to go for it. I don't think I would have gone for it with a 3-wood, because it's quite a generous pin with a wedge, and I hit quite a few wedges pretty good this week, so probably fancied my chances from that.

Q. He perhaps made the wrong call?

ROBERT KARLSSON: If he fancies that shot, as the world No. 1, I would not take that club away from him, that's for sure.

Q. What's the strangest thing that you've ever done under golf rules or what's happened to you?

ROBERT KARLSSON: Try to forget those sort of things usually I think. I don't know. I know you hear about things probably more, but myself, I don't know -- obviously, I mean, the typical stuff is when the ball is on the ground, you've got the club down and the ball moves and you haven't touched it and you haven't been close to it and you get a one-shot penalty. It happened in Cologne, but I ended up winning the event. That's always very hash, because the putter is there and it's quite windy are or just a little blade of grass that gives away and you don't do anything and the ball is actually rolling even further away from the hole and you're penalized. But again, that's the rules of the game.

Q. You were penalized because you grounded your club?

ROBERT KARLSSON: Yeah.

Q. You lost quite a bit of golf this year through illness; is this one of the first tournaments where you've actually gone out there and thought, right, I'm 100% fit?

ROBERT KARLSSON: No. I would say I've been 100 per cent 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, it's more the confidence and get used to being in the situation; so the more often you are there, the more calm you are under the circumstances. And I think that's probably more what it is. And I played pretty poorly for a while in September, where I struggled with the wedge shots and things like that. So since June I would say.

Q. You are only the second to win two tournaments in the Middle East in one season alone, after Ernie. Any particular liking to the Middle East?

ROBERT KARLSSON: Very much so at the moment.

I think in general the desert golf courses set up pretty well for long hitters. So I think they are very often quite generous off the tee and you could see the winner in Abu Dhabi with Casey, Kaymer and me, and Alvaro and Retief and Ernie in Qatar. So I think in general, very often you see a lot of long hitters doing well here. I mean, Lee won here last year and I won this year. So I think desert golf suits long hitters in general.

Q. You did win the Order of Merit two years ago; do you think this could be a renaissance for you for greater things to come?

ROBERT KARLSSON: Well, this week I won and next week, we don't know what's happens. We are starting next season fresh. I'm very happy with this week, and the year in whole actually, winning two times, and a second in Memphis in America, I lost to Lee in a playoff. So it has not been bad, even though people maybe was expecting more. But if I win twice in a year, it's a pretty good year.

Q. So you don't feel as if you need to make up for any lost time through your eye and illness problems?

ROBERT KARLSSON: You can't do those sort of things. You just have to play from where you are at the moment and probably that's what I did well this week. That's why I went well.

Q. Do you take (trophy) that home?

ROBERT KARLSSON: I hope not, I have probably excess baggage anyway. Usually they get sent in the post. I hope they get done that way this way as well (smiling).

MODERATOR: Can you talk about Martin Kaymer, his achievement. He is in the same management stable as you.

ROBERT KARLSSON: Yeah, obviously I've been around his whole career, and he's a fantastic player and a player I expect will go on and keep doing great things in the future. I mean, the way he played during that playoff in the U.S. PGA is truly a sign of a champion. I think probably his biggest challenge and probably the things that he needs to get used to before he takes the next step is probably to handle these sorts of situations and start to like being with the press and like all of the attention and all those sort of things. But I mean, I think it's not going to be a problem but might take a bit of time. But I mean, he's definitely a great, great player and he's going to do a lot of good in the future.

MODERATOR: An impressive rise, isn't it, in just a few short years.

ROBERT KARLSSON: Very much so. He's a great player.

MODERATOR: Robert Karlsson, Dubai World champion again, congratulations.

The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.