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March 24, 2004

Ian Poulter


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Thank you for joining us for a couple of minutes. This is your first PLAYERS Championship. Let's get some opening comments about first coming to play here and Ponte Vedra Beach and also some comments about the golf course.

IAN POULTER: It's my first tournament, PLAYERS, and it's exciting to come here. And it's everything I thought it would be. The golf course is set up real tough, and it's going to be a great challenge. So it was nice to play 17 for the first time, and I've hit plenty of shots in there now. And I'll feel more comfortable coming in Thursday.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: You played some good golf at the Match Play.

IAN POULTER: I think I've settled in quite well in the tournaments I've played out here, and I could look to play a few more.

Q. Tell us a little about your first experience at 17, what you hit, what you thought of it, how you played it?

IAN POULTER: First experience, I just hit 8-iron. The pin's been the same the last couple of days. I come up on that front left portion, which is absolutely fine. And then I hit 7-iron into the right hand portion. So it didn't seem too bad. And my caddy stood up, hit 8-iron on the middle of the green, and followed up with 7-iron, and hit it straight in the water. So I took a bit of stick for that. So it's a great finish. 16, 17, 18, it was just a great -- great to play those holes, and it's going to be even better tomorrow.

Q. Does it seem that green is as big as everybody says it is? When you're playing it the first few times does it seem like a lot of water?

IAN POULTER: It's big enough. And you should hit the green. But you know when nerves do come Thursday, everything changes. And the wind is tricky there, it swirls, and you don't realize how much it swirls. One minute I had 8-iron, and the next minute I had 7-iron. Within ten seconds it completely changes. It's a great hole.

Q. You talked a lot about the wind, and if it stays like it does, it's going to be difficult on Thursday. How was your experience today?

IAN POULTER: Today it was calmer than yesterday. It did pick up a little bit, just after lunchtime, while I was on the range hitting balls. But I think it was pretty windy, last year on the Sunday. I wasn't here, I don't know, but it was a pretty tough day, I believe. But, yeah, it's a great test in the wind. And that is a big factor with the last three holes, it can swirl around those trees, and you think you've hit a perfect golf shot and the next minute it's in the water.

Q. How well do you know Anders Forsbrand?

IAN POULTER: I know him not that well.

Q. You know he's been announced as vice-captain of the Ryder Cup team?

IAN POULTER: I didn't know.

Q. What are your thoughts on that?

IAN POULTER: No thoughts. That's fine.

Q. Stop and think, that you're playing for $8 million, and how fortunate you are?

IAN POULTER: That's pretty bad, really, isn't it? It's great. It's a huge tournament. It's probably more -- it's more a bigger tournament than a bigger prize fund. The money comes after the status of winning the tournament, and I think the world ranking points -- yeah, we look at world ranking points, and compare that in relation to rather than looking at the money. So it's a huge purse. It's -- $8 million is a lot of money.

Q. Is your game and your driving in particular in the same good order it was in at Augusta?

IAN POULTER: Yeah, it feels good. I've hit some -- I've hit some great drives out there the last couple of days. I've hit a few iffy ones in the wind, but practice is going well, and I've done a lot of practice just hitting driver as low as I possibly can. If the wind picks up like it did yesterday and the day before, it turns the golf course very linksy, and I find that a good challenge, and I do like playing links type of golf. With the greens drying like they have, as well, you have to play those chip shots, as well. But my game is in shape, and I'm driving it, as well.

Q. When you were told about the decree about your hair from Augusta, what was your first reaction?

IAN POULTER: Well, that story has gone like this, so I haven't been told in person. And there is no issue, I believe. There is absolutely no issue.

Q. Where did the story come from?

IAN POULTER: There's no -- there's nothing really to talk about on the hair, so I don't really want to go down that road.

Q. But you could go there?

IAN POULTER: I could sprout it multi-color if I wanted to, but I don't want to. I never had any intention to, since December, since -- since the 31st, since I've known I've actually been in The Masters. That was the plan, I wasn't going to put any color in my hair. I have too much respect for the golf course; I don't want to upset anybody there. I want to go there, play my golf and enjoy the week with all my family there.

Q. Could you talk a little bit about any of your journey getting to this point, getting to the big tournaments. Do you feel your career is on schedule? Where do you think you stand?

IAN POULTER: I'd like to be here about ten years ago. No, the way it's all up-and-down out has been great. Last year I had the goal in mind to be in the top 50, which would give me obviously all these tournaments to play in and give myself a chance this year, really, to play four majors and really try and get in the top-20 of the world by the end of the year and obviously get myself in the Ryder Cup.

So pretty much I've fulfilled most of my goals over the last couple of years, and I think everything has worked out pretty much to plan. So I didn't plan to play as badly as I did at the start of last year, but it was nice to finish up where I really wanted to be.

Q. There's been a little bit of a European drought in the major championships, and Augusta has been a place in the past that was a very popular course for Europeans to win on. Do you feel there's a part of a group that's able to restore that prominence?

IAN POULTER: Absolutely. You've got to look at some of the younger guys right now in Europe, playing great golf, and hopefully we can take over from some of the other guys that have headed their way to the Senior Tour. But I think there's some great young players that should definitely have enough chances over the next few years to win some of the majors.

Q. What are your first memories of Augusta?

IAN POULTER: Just watching it on the tellie.

Q. What would be your first ones?

IAN POULTER: There's I don't know --

Q. Watching Sandy win?

IAN POULTER: I should have been watching, then. It's like the putt that Woosy holed on the last. And obviously Faldo winning on the playoff and winning against Greg Norman, all those kind of wins stick in my mind. And it's just been a tournament that I've watched over the last 15 years and just would love to be there. And it's so great now to be able to go there and take all my family. Unfortunately my wife can't come.

Q. Why can't she come?

IAN POULTER: She's got ten weeks to go with her second baby.

End of FastScripts.

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