Sweden’s Robert Karlsson was crowned as the king of the desert after winning a playoff against England’s Ian Poulter at the $7.5 million Dubai World Championship presented by DP World on Sunday.
Sheikh Majid bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Arts and Culture Authority was the chief guest and gave away the awards.
Karlsson (67) sank two consecutive birdies on the two extra holes against Poulter (70) on the Earth course Jumeirah Golf Estates to win the dramatic playoff.
After both players were tied at 14 under 274 following four rounds, the winner had to be decided by playing extra holes providing a thrilling finale to decide the winner of the first prize of $1.25 million (€910,348).
Karlsson, three behind overnight, played the first three holes in four under and then pitched to three feet for a birdie on the 620 yard last.
Both players took the championship to another level by sinking birdies in the first extra hole with great approach shots on the 18th.
Both birdied the first extra hole after hitting approaches within five feet, and at the second extra hole Poulter miscued his sand wedge approach to leave a 30-foot putt.
Karlsson was precise again, his ball finishing three feet from the cup, and to make matters worse Poulter then picked up a one shot penalty when he dropped his ball on his marker and moved it.
Poulter’s tee off shot in the second extra hole was wayward landing on the edge of the fairways in the woods.
Red-hot Karlsson fared better and set himself up for a birdie putt with a superb third shot into the green.
But in a tremendous anti-climax to an enthralling contest, Poulter was penalised for dropping the ball on the marker and moving it while contemplating an almost improbable birdie putt from the outside the green and eventually failed to save par.
“Ian Poulter called me over just after he had marked the ball on the 18th and told me he had dropped his ball onto the ball marker which caused the ball marker to move, it just flipped over. This incurred a one-stroke penalty and the ball marker was replaced,” said Chief Referee Andy McFee in a statement.
"Bizarrely, Terry (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," explained Poulter managing to smile wryly throughout the whole incident.
"It was good fun the whole way around. I felt good, hit lots of good golf shots. I made a couple of key ups and downs at the right time.But you're left walking away disappointed," said the winner of last week's Hong Kong Open.
Two putts meant a bogey six for Poulter, but the penalty was irrelevant as Karlsson holed his birdie putt.
Karlsson calmly slotted the simple birdie putt to win the dramatic playoff amidst rapturous applause from an appreciative crowd who had packed the galleries during the last three days of the championship in particular.
"It's a strange day to say the least. You start birdie, birdie, eagle and the eagle was on a par 4. It's not what you expect to happen when you are three behind. But it's not always that easy. I 3-putted three holes in the span of four or five holes," said Karlsson.
He rates this victory as the highest in his career. "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," he said.
Asked whether he felt for Poulter, Karlsson said: "Those things happen in golf. I mean, it's not the way you want to win, but that happens sometimes. We are playing off the rules and sometimes you get penalised for it."
World Number One and defending champion Lee Westwood was 13 under like playing partner Karlsson after a hat-trick of birdies from the 14th, but pulled his second to the last into the water.
He did well to make his par five, but it left him in a tie for third with Spain’s Alvaro Quiros, while 21-year-old Rory McIlroy was a shot further back after closing with an eagle for a 67.
“I didn’t really deserve to have a chance the amount of shots I’ve squandered all week. It’s just not been like me at all. I’ve been very sloppy out there, especially on the greens,” said Westwood had a round of 68.
He was disappointed but felt he had made a pretty good defence of the title after his season had been curtailed by injuries.
Martin Kaymer and Graeme McDowell tied for 13th, which made Kaymer The European Tour’s youngest Number One since Ronan Rafferty in 1989.
“I’m very proud. It’s been a fantastic year I think. All of the goals that I set for myself, for my career, everything happened this year. To win the Race to Dubai, to play in the Ryder Cup and to win a Major,” said 25-year-old Kaymer who won the USPGA Championship in August.
“It would be nice to win a Major again, preferably the British Open, our only major that we have in Europe. And I never made a hole-in-one in my life,” said the German when asked about his goals next year.
Karlsson who swept into the lead in spectacular fashion earlier in the day, sunk a birdie, his fifth of the day, on the 18th hole after a great approach shot which hit the flag to set up a thrilling finale.
Overnight leader Poulter needed just a par to win the title after going ahead by one stroke of Karlsson with consecutive birdies on the 11th and 12th.
His playing partner Francesco Molinari managed to sink his fourth shot in the par-five 18th but Poulter agonisingly missed a 10-footer with a shot that lipped the cup to take the championship into a sudden death playoff for the first time in Dubai.
The 2011 European Tour season will get underway in South Africa on December 9 and end with the Dubai World Championship presented by DP World from December 8-11, 2011.
Leading final-round scores in the $7.5 million Dubai World Championship on Sunday (par 72):
274 - Robert Karlsson (SWE) 65-75-67-67, Ian Poulter (ENG) 69-66-66-70 (Karlsson won in a playoff on second hole)
275 - Alvaro Quiros (ESP) 72-67-69-67, Lee Westwood (ENG) 69-67-71-68
276 - Rory McIlroy (NIR) 71-72-66-67,
277 - Paul Casey (ENG) 70-67-71-69, Francesco Molinari (ITA) 71-67-68-71
279 - Thongchai Jaidee (THA) 68-69-69-73
280 - Noh Seung-Yul (KOR) 66-73-74-67, Luke Donald (ENG) 74-67-69-70
281 - Anders Hansen (DEN) 74-70-67-70, Robert-Jan Derksen (NED) 71-70-70-70,
282 - Graeme McDowell (NIR) 72-73-69-68, Peter Hanson (SWE) 76-69-67-70, Thomas Aiken (RSA) 70-72-70-70, Peter Lawrie (IRL) 76-67-68-71, YE Yang (KOR) 71-69-71-71, Martin Kaymer (GER) 67-70-73-72, Louis Oosthuizen (RSA) 73-66-70-73, Ross Fisher (ENG) 71-64-71-76
283 - Charl Schwartzel (RSA) 69-75-73-66, Sergio Garcia (ESP) 69-74-70-70, Rafael Jacquelin (FRA) 70-70-71-72
284 - Soren Hansen (DEN) 74-70-69-71, Henrik Stenson (SWE) 69-71-71-73
285 - Soren Kjeldsen (DEN) 71-71-70-73, Joost Luiten (NED) 72-72-67-74
286 - Ernie Els (RSA) 73-70-72-71, Darren Clarke (NIR) 71-71-73-71, Brett Rumford (AUS) 71-70-74-71, Gonzalo Fdez-Castano (ESP) 73-71-70-72
287 - Simon Dyson (ENG) 72-71-73-71, Marcus Fraser (AUT) 72-71-69-75, Matteo Manassero (ITA) 74-68-70-75,
288 - David Horsey (ENG) 70-73-74-71, Oilver Wilson (ENG) 75-73-68-72, Richie Ramsay (SCO) 73-69-73-73, Gregory Havret (FRA) 72-73-70-73,
289 - Retief Goosen (RSA) 78-72-66-73, Padraig Harrington (IRL) 74-70-69-76