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May 14, 2017

Ian Poulter

Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

MICHAEL BALIKER: We'd like to welcome Ian Poulter to the interview room. Ian, just sum up the week. Pretty wild finish there, and just give us your overall thoughts.

IAN POULTER: Well, it was a good week overall. I think I was really pleased the way I played all week, barring the nightmare second shot into the last. But I think when I sit back and reflect on this week, I've played with less pressure. I've played probably with a little smile on my face. I've had a lot of fun. I had a new caddie on the bag. Obviously James stepped in for Terry last week and this week, so obviously that takes a little adjusting to, as well. But it's been a good week. I wish I hadn't have hit that shot on the last. I wish I'd have hit it up somewhere around the green and had a little chance to put a little bit of extra pressure on. But it was a good week.

Q. Obviously over the last six, seven holes, you needed to try to make something happen, but yet it didn't really seem it was that easy to make something happen today. Could you just talk about the conditions and how hard it might have been?
IAN POULTER: Yeah, it was -- I think it was difficult to kind of get it close, and obviously the opportunities on the back nine were 11 -- I hit a decent shot into 10 and had a decent look there, but took advantage of 11. I still don't really like the 12th. I don't think it's -- I think they might need to adjust that at some stage. But it was tough to get it close on those closing holes. Obviously 16 is an opportunity if you put it in the fairway, and I didn't do that, so I made a mistake by missing that fairway to the right. I laid it up. I didn't hit a good wedge spot from there, and then obviously you can make a mistake at 17. But with that wind off the right-hand side, you really have to set it off in the water to have any chance of that ball finishing on that right-hand plateau. You're aiming for the ridge, the spine in the middle of that green, to hopefully get a kick down. If not, you're going to try and hole a putt down the ridge, and then obviously the last, it's quite difficult to make birdie from the right-hand bushes.

Q. With everything you've been through in the last month, when you hit that incredible shot from the trees there at 18 and it just missed by a couple inches, you mentioned smiling all week, that was probably your biggest smile. Was that just one of those things you finally had to just say, okay, because it seemed like you were just happy that you ended at least on some sort of a good note.
IAN POULTER: Well, you don't want to make double at the last. I think it's a tough finishing hole. There's going to be a number of guys making double there today. The wind is off the right, so the tee shot is not easy because you're actually starting it in the right-hand rough anyway, although it's probably the most accessible pin of the week there at the last, so if you get it in play, you've got a great birdie look.

You know, it was a big shock to the system to hit one of those nasty shanks when I've hit it as good as I have all week, but the fourth shot was pretty special, from one of the worst shots I've ever hit to one of the very best. It's nice to close out -- it's nice obviously not to compound an error with another one.

Q. You talked about the difficulty of trying to catch somebody at this course; just wondering if you can speak to a guy who puts up a bogey-free round, really the only one of any of the contenders, and just your thoughts on that.
IAN POULTER: Yeah, I mean, as good as he played yesterday, he's obviously gone out there today and played even better. I know he hit a couple of amazing shots yesterday to get himself out of trouble, driver off the deck on 14 was a pretty impressive shot.

But he's gone clean out there today, which is extremely impressive under that pressure. I kind of got close there on 11 once I made birdie, and obviously I wanted to try and put a little bit more pressure on, but it was tough to get it close. So you know, I believe he was hitting most of the fairways and just putting it in position, and to win this tournament, you have to do that. You have to take your hat off. You have to respect some good golf, and that's exactly what he's done.

Q. Ian, I know you talked about it a bit, but a month ago you didn't have a full card for this year. Now you've pretty much locked up the Playoffs with this result. Can you just talk a bit about how you've gone from a little bit of despair to now being in a great position again?
IAN POULTER: Sure, I can't believe I'm drinking water right now. It needs to be something a little stronger than that. That's all they've got in that little box down there.

Yeah, I guess it's been a roller coaster ride. There's been a lot of interesting things happen in the last 18 months which haven't been very helpful for playing golf. You know, still a few of them we're working through, but I think when I look back, and I reflect on this week, it's been a big week. You know, to have two, three weeks ago been in a position where I wasn't playing THE PLAYERS and potentially didn't have a card to play and was looking to write nice letters to Jack for Memorial and all of those great tournaments that I'd like to play in, things change pretty quick with good golf, and that's what I've done this week. I've played good golf. I think I've still got some work to do. The putter is not quite doing what I would like.

As good as this week was, I'm still going to try and dissect it and work on certain things that need working on, the dreaded shank.

Q. So you're calling it a shank?
IAN POULTER: Oh, it was a full one. Yeah, it was a lovely one. Make no -- it was a shank. You'd like me to spell it for you?

Q. Could you take us through the shot that you took the unplayable, kind of the ground conditions, and then what you saw from your point of view in terms of the opening?
IAN POULTER: Well, I mean, you know, when I saw it in the bush, you're kind of looking, you're going back into the Seve book of thinking, is there something in my line, can I -- you're staring at this ball in the bush, and it's not very good. Immediately realizing that you're not really going to get any kind of break or any kind of a drop, you're going to have to take a penalty drop. Clearing the pine needles took a few minutes because it was pretty dense and pretty thick in there. James obviously walked to the front of the green to get the number. I was kind of lucky in a way, there was a gap through the trees, albeit I had to kind of get the ball up really quickly. There was a branch that was probably just 30 yards in front and about 20 feet in the air, which was the one branch I had to miss. Happened to have a good number. It was a full shot. Had I have had a half shot, I would have been really struggling to get it up over that branch, but it was a full shot, and the rest was a blur to be honest. I've hit it, it's missed the branch, and then obviously everyone kind of runs in front and then you don't really know. I kind of -- I saw it was on a good line, and it wasn't until I got through the crowd of people that I saw it was stone dead and then the highlight come on the TV.

It was a nice recovery shot from a very poor second.

Q. When you thought you lost your card, I guess at the Texas Open, your attitude seemed to be good as far as looking forward and taking it in stride, but in any moments of reflection, was there anything -- kind of a period of despair, kind of wondering, what am I going to do? I know you would get some sponsor exemptions but your schedule wouldn't be so set. I'm wondering what you thought for your career and the immediate future.
IAN POULTER: Well, I was almost relieved just to get that question out of the way. It had been recurring for a month, people counting the events down. Didn't really want to read too much social media because that was becoming quite difficult.

So in some respects, it was a relief that it was all over, whether it was positive or negative, and then you can kind of obviously work towards what the following few months were going to look like. They were going to look difficult from a perspective of planning schedules. It would have been impossible. I would have had to, as I said, ask for invites, play certain events that you probably don't want to play when your family are back in England and you're over here playing golf. It wasn't looking like a great summer. For that all to turn around the way it is and for me to be sitting here in a slightly different situation, it's pleasing.

I think it's time to start looking, start filling the positive thoughts back in my head and start enjoying golf again. It's been tough. You know, for 18 months, it's been hard, right from taking the medical exemption to obviously thinking you've missed your card.

MICHAEL BALIKER: Ian, all the best, and we appreciate your time.

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