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May 13, 2017

Ian Poulter

Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

DOUG MILNE: We'd like to welcome Ian Poulter to the interview room here after a bogey-free and last we checked, the only bogey-free round of the day so far, a 1-under 71 today gets you to 6-under and presently just two strokes back. With that said, just a few comments on the round today. Obviously not easy but certainly you got the job done.

IAN POULTER: I did, yeah. It was always going to be tricky. I think I said it earlier, when I was having lunch, Pat Perez walked in, shot 6-under par, and I was thinking that's a pretty impressive round of golf out there. As I got to the practice ground, it was blowing 25, and just realized how tricky today was going to be. A few tucked pins on a couple of holes. And it was about playing smart, not making silly mistakes, trying not to get out of position. Would have been very easy to do that today. I know a few players have done that.

But just be sensible on the golf course. When I need to scramble, obviously work exceptionally hard around the greens, try and leave it in a good spot if you have to miss a green. I did that today on 11. Found myself behind the tree but got it in a greenside bunker where it was a decent chance at up-and-down. But it was a good day, good, solid round of golf. I'm in position for tomorrow, and hopefully I can roll a few putts in.

Q. Obviously the narrative for you lately has been this kind of crazy month and change with the medical exemption, extension and whatnot. Can you talk about the pressure that you felt coming down the stretch with that, and how freed up you feel now that this thing has been kind of resolved?
IAN POULTER: Yeah, I was kind of strangling my putter on the back nine at Hilton Head. When you have to hole putts -- I've been in positions when I've needed to hole putts, and I've also been in the position obviously of late where you're just trying too hard, and that was difficult, you know, to play with the understanding, to make two birdies in the last four holes or two in the last five for what you think is to do enough to -- for your playing rights to continue and plan a schedule for the rest of this year, and you come up one short. That's hard to take. Especially when you've played the golf you've played. I think I've played similar golf this week, and I think I'm in a similar position where I felt I've left a lot of shots on the golf course, not holing putts I'd like to hole. It's something I'm trying to address. I don't feel I've putted well for the last two years, and I just have to continue to work hard.

But I've definitely been obviously freer this week playing golf than I have in the last month, and I think it shows on the course. I think it shows probably in my attitude on the course. It's a big deal. It was a nice phone call to receive, and I definitely feel better on the golf course for it.

Q. Ian, this course makes everybody uncomfortable; what was sort of the toughest thing going from yesterday to today? Was it the wind? Was it the pin placements? Everything?
IAN POULTER: I think one of the toughest things yesterday was I had a late tee-off time and it was taking five hours to play, and I know Katie and the kids were driving up late in the afternoon. It's very easy for them to come up and you don't want to be passing them on the way back home if you play bad. I was playing under some pressure to make sure I had a lie-in for today because I didn't want them to get up here, and I didn't want to be setting an alarm for 6:00 in the morning to get them out of bed on a Saturday morning. So I think that was on my mind yesterday.

No, but I mean, all jokes aside, this is a big week for me. I think having the opportunity now trying to take that opportunity and press forward as hard as I can. I feel like obviously the door has been opened. I want to walk through that door. I want to press forward and keep playing good golf.

Q. I didn't look up your record, but have you had any measure of luck here in the past, and do you have an opinion of this course, which is obviously not everyone's cup of tea?
IAN POULTER: I've had some bad luck. I've come up against a very hot Stenson in '09, I think it is.

Q. You and 142 others.
IAN POULTER: Yeah, exactly. But I mean, second has been my best finish here. It was on a tough, windy Sunday, greens were rock solid, so from that perspective, I've got some experience with playing this course in extremely difficult conditions, and that's what it's been over the first few days.

Q. You like it, though?
IAN POULTER: I love it. I love what it stands for. I love the test that we get given. There's a number of holes on this golf course where you have to hit shots. You guys know exactly where they are, and it makes you feel uncomfortable. It's easy to make mistakes and then it's easy to start pressing, and that's when you can rack up some big numbers.

Q. Did you give any thought to driving the 12th green today?
IAN POULTER: I gave no thought about it whatsoever. Not for one second. In practice I looked at it. I don't really see the benefit for me. I feel my wedge game, albeit I hit a terrible shot into there today, but I feel my wedge game is good enough, if I put myself in the middle of the fairway from 100 yards, I should have four decent opportunities. I think you can definitely hit 3-wood there today. You can definitely come up the wrong side of the green on a downslope, in those collection areas, and you leave yourself a very tricky chip shot.

Q. You mentioned Pat; when he finished his round today, he said there wasn't a shot out there that he feels comfortable over. Would you agree with that?
IAN POULTER: I think -- I mean, it tests every -- it tests you on every single hole. Pat is right. I mean, even from the first tee shot, second tee shot, third with the pin position five on today was no gimme. I mean, every hole today tested every part of your game. It's a golf course which can unsettle you very, very easy and very quickly. Chez, who I played with today, he had a 9 on the fourth hole, and from that point on, it was going to be a tough day for him. You can find yourself very early in the round of golf making a mistake and then find yourself just compounding that error.

Q. You mentioned Pat's round, just how impressed you were by it? Curious how you sort of rate a bogey-free round on a day like this, the only one, particularly given some of the struggles you've had the last couple years and the uncertainty.
IAN POULTER: I rate it pretty highly. It's something I've been -- I haven't done exceptionally well in the last 18 months. I have made silly mistakes. But today, every six, seven-foot par putt I gave myself, I felt more comfortable over those six, seven-footers. That hasn't happened quite so much in the last 18 months. And you know, it was always going to be tricky in the wind, as well, putting from inside seven feet was awkward, but I did a very good job of that today when I found myself out of position. So it was a very boring round of golf. I felt as if I was under control from start to finish. I was pretty happy -- I mean, I was very happy with that round.

Q. Why the comfort level on the six, seven-footers?
IAN POULTER: Well, you know, for a long time, when you don't hole putts and you're used to holing putts, you kind of start to second-guess yourself, and it's not good. So to get yourself back in the mindset of being extremely confident from seven feet, you have to stop missing them. Rounds like today are pretty important for me to build on those confidence levels, refill the can to try and boost my confidence levels where I can more aggressive, I can keep holing putts and start holing some 15-, 20- footers that I'd like to hole.

Q. For the folks at home who are watching and marveled at your ability to go bogey-free, what kind of advice do you give for playing in this kind of wind, either downwind or into the wind? You must do something with your setup or something -- try and gain some measure of control.
IAN POULTER: Well, in 25, 35, I'd probably have a couple of beers before you go out. (Laughter.)

It's extremely stressful on golf courses like this, but simple rules apply into the wind. Don't try and hit it too hard, because you're going to put more spin on the ball the harder you hit it. You can lose it in the wind. And obviously downwind take advantage. You need to be careful but aggressive when you've got conditions like today.

Q. You had what seemed like a very special moment on the 17th back here. It was with the folks in the front of the room on the 17th green as you approached. I was wondering if you could give us a little insight into that.
IAN POULTER: Sure. You know, this is a great week. You know, it's two hours from home. It's great to have Katie and the kids come up, and I didn't realize she snuck away probably I'm guessing on sort of 12, 13 and obviously went to get them from the creche, and yeah, Lilly and Josh, he was standing there as I walked around to walk on to 17th green, so it was nice. You know, it's a fun week. It's a family week, and it's great to have them up here watching.

Q. When you get on the plane for Zurich, you weren't in this tournament, so I was just curious what you would have been doing with the family this week.
IAN POULTER: I'd have been pretty miserable at home to be honest with you. No, I mean, it's obviously a bonus from my mindset of being in New Orleans and not being in this week. I'd kind of worked out with Terry -- we sat down and tried to work out what events I would be in if I was in my 126 to 150. I kind of worked out I was going to be six or seven events that I would be in between now and the FedExCup. Obviously I would have to obviously write off for a couple of invitations for another couple of events. So I would have had opportunities to play golf, but obviously this week is key to hopefully jump starting my season, and it's a big week. It holds a lot of big points, World Ranking points, and could help, obviously, significantly.

Q. As a follow, you had a fun exchange on Twitter with Bryan and Kimberly Gay. With a big finish this week, would you consider doing something pretty nice for them?
IAN POULTER: I've already done something quite nice.

Q. What did you do?
IAN POULTER: I'm not telling you. I'm not telling anyone.

Q. Are you going to dangle that and then take it away? How nice was it?
IAN POULTER: They like red wine and champagne, and I know Kimberly likes the odd treatment, so yeah, I'm sure they'll be quite happy.

Q. Now that you've got your card for this year, was there any thought coming into this week that a big week could take care of next year, too, that you don't have to go through this whole situation again?
IAN POULTER: Yeah, 100 percent. I've looked at trying to play as many events as I can in a short period of time from now to lock up whatever it is I need to. Obviously a win would be exceptionally nice because then it changes things dramatically. I mean, dramatically. For me, it's about concentrating, playing hard over the next kind of six weeks. I'd like to go back and play a number of events in Europe, the new series of events that they have over there, Keith has done a great job obviously of boosting the prize fund, so I would like to go back and support and play certainly the Irish, French, Scottish, if I can. I'd like to obviously get in the Open Championship. I'm obviously looking up whether to potentially qualify for U.S. Open or not. But yeah, I want to do what I can in the next six weeks. I want to free the calendar up to go back and enjoy some time back in the UK with obviously Katie and the kids.

DOUG MILNE: Ian, congratulations. Thanks for your time.

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