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Players 2022: Pat Perez thanks Ian Poulter for his hustle: 'I would have had a heart attack'

March 10, 2022

PONTE VEDRA BEACH — Ian Poulter had a big decision to make on the 17th tee Thursday. But it wasn't one that involved choosing between a 9-iron or a pitching wedge.

No, Poulter had to decide just how badly he wanted to sleep in, or, to put it another way, to not have to get up at the a-- crack of dawn to complete his first round at the Players Championship. Had he dilly-dallyed, he and partners Pat Perez and Jhonattan Vegas would have had to return to the course before the sun came up Friday just to complete one hole, and not even that was a guarantee given the weather forecast.

The decision was an easy one—hit the tee shot on 17 and sprint like you stole something, which is just what Poulter did. Racing against sunlight, Poulter was hoping to finish the par 3 and then make it to the 18th tee to hit a tee shot before the horn sounded for the suspension of play due to darkness. That would afford he and his entire threesome the opportunity to finish in the gloaming:

Thanks to the Englishman, finish they did. After making a quick birdie at 17, Poulter did manage to hit his tee shot at 18, blocking it a mile right of the fairway, his ball coming to rest on the cart path. The horn sounded shortly thereafter, but his group, and the group directly in front of them in the 18th fairway, were allowed to finish. Poulter made an all-world par save to close out a one-over 73, Perez a round-ending birdie to post a two-under 70. Vegas, like Poulter, saved par, giving him a first-round 69. Mission accomplished.

Perez couldn't have been more appreciative.

"I'm very excited, I don't think we're going to play tomorrow," Perez said afterward, knowing the gloomy weather forecast. "It's nice, it's nice. Now I don't have to do sh-t tomorrow. It's perfect."

Was this a group decision? Did they draw straws? Nope, says Perez, all Ian.

"Poulter just said I'm running. He's done it before. God bless him."

He certainly has done it before. At the same tournament and at the same hole. Married to the sprint-to-the-finish-so-you-can-sleep-in game since 2011:

A true team player. Surely, Perez would have done the same, right?

"No, I told him, I would have had a heart attack running around the water."

Ian Poulter, literally out here saving lives.