Ian Poulter makes the most of reprieve
Ian Poulter hopes to use his second place in the Players Championship as a "stepping stone" for the rest of the season after making the most of his second chance at Sawgrass.
Poulter had slipped from a career-high of fifth in the world to 197th and just three weeks ago had seemingly lost his PGA Tour card until fellow professional Brian Gay alerted officials to a discrepancy in the points structure used for players competing on major medical extensions.
After playing just 13 tournaments in 2016 due to a foot injury, Poulter had 10 events this season to earn 218 FedEx Cup points or 347,634 US dollars (£269,755) to remain fully exempt.
He came up short in both categories after missing the cut in his 10th event last month, but Gay - who was also playing on a medical exemption after back problems - came to the rescue by discovering a difference between the way points were allotted this season compared to a year ago.
"From being in a position a couple of weeks ago where I wasn't here to finish tied second, it's a good week," Poulter told Sky Sports after finishing three shots behind South Korea's Si Woo Kim - his best finish since November 2014.
"It's been a tough 18 months. I've had the kids up here all weekend and had some fun on the beach and it's kind of taken my mind off things. From a playing perspective to be in this situation where I can play a schedule and enjoy some golf, some of my best golf has come out this week.
"I've enjoyed it and hopefully this is just a stepping stone to pressing on for the rest of this year."
Kim carded a flawless final round of 69 to finish 10 under par, three shots ahead of Poulter and former Open champion Louis Oosthuizen.
After his victory in the Wyndham Championship last year, Kim became the fourth player in the last 25 years to win twice on the PGA Tour before the age of 22, following in the footsteps of Tiger Woods, Sergio Garcia and Jordan Spieth.
And the 21-year-old is also comfortably the youngest winner of the Players Championship, surpassing the record set by former world number one Adam Scott, who was 23 when he won in 2004.
Kim began the day two shots off the lead shared by Americans JB Holmes and Kyle Stanley - but birdies on the first, seventh and ninth gave him a two-shot lead at the turn.
Poulter closed the gap with a birdie on the 11th but the 41-year-old Ryder Cup star three-putted the 12th to end his bogey-free run at 39 holes and did well to salvage a bogey at the last after shanking his approach into the trees.
"I feel like I'm still dreaming," Kim said. "I never expected to win and I wasn't playing that well at the beginning of the year. I'm just so excited to be the champion."