AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Ian Poulter and Ernie Els are now connected in the worst way: Both thought they were going to the Masters.
Projections for the next world ranking showed Poulter right around No. 50 if he were to win his fourth-round match Saturday at the Dell Technologies Match Play, which would have put him in the Masters. He held on to defeat Louis Oosthuizen, 2 and 1.
In the short break before his next match, a group of reporters told Poulter he was assured of being in the top 50.
He said he asked three or four times if they were sure and said they told him, “Yeah, you’re definitely in.”
Turns out Poulter still needed to win one more match, and he received a text message letting him know where he stood. That soon became irrelevant when Kevin Kisner built an early lead and kept right on rolling to an 8-and-6 victory in the quarterfinals.
According to the world ranking, Poulter will be No. 51 next week.
“No. I’m not definitely in,” Poulter said. “So next time, I won’t listen to other people. I’ll do my bit and focus better.”
Poulter said the misinformation didn’t cause him three-putt twice from long range or hit into the hazard on the par-3 fourth as the match quickly got away from him.
“I mean, I can’t put that down as an excuse. It would be an excuse if I said it,” he said. “So it’s disappointing to be given the wrong information, but that wasn’t any part of this afternoon.”
Els kept his hopes alive for more than a few minutes. He received an invitation from Augusta National over the Christmas holidays, and a tweet from his account said, “Thank you a Great XMas present! @TheMasters Can’t wait!” That led several media sites to post stories that Els received a special exemption.
Turns out it was a letter welcoming him as an honoring invitee, which is extended to all past major champions to give special access at Augusta National that includes two clubhouse badges and a ,000 honorarium.
Els went back on Twitter the next day to clarify his invitation and that he would work to qualify.
At least they both have one more chance.
The winner of next week’s Houston Open gets the final spot into the Masters. Poulter and Els are entered in the tournament.
Poulter wasn’t sure if he would play.
“I’m tired. It’s been a long week,” Poulter said. “It’s been a draining week. I don’t know. I’ll wait until Monday night and if I have the energy, then I will.”