SINGAPORE - Organisers of golf's Singapore Open voiced their dismay on Thursday at British Open runner-up Ian Poulter's decision to withdraw on the eve of the $5 million event.
Flamboyant Englishman Poulter pulled out on Wednesday after being unable to replace a driver he had stolen at the HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai, which ended on Monday.
"We are disappointed," Chris Jordan of organisers World Sports Group told Reuters.
"He would have added a great deal to the event and helped bring the crowd in."
Those who did attend the Serapong Course on Singapore's Sentosa Island were forced to endure persistent rain as the event got underway on Thursday and play was halted at midday local time as conditions worsened and players were called off the course with lightning overhead.
Poulter on Wednesday explained his decision to pull out.
"I am really gutted," he told reporters. "I have been thinking about it for four hours and I have decided to withdraw because my new driver will not arrive on time.
"It is disappointing because I did not come all this way not to play. But with so many world ranking points at stake, if I played badly (by using a different driver) I may have lost ground."
World number 25 Poulter would have been unable to secure a replacement driver until Friday.
Top golfers have drivers tailor-made to their specifications, with a bespoke shaft, grip and tweaking the weight of the head among other things.
India's Anirban Lahiri took the Englishman's place in the richest national open on the Asian Tour.