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May 17, 2017

Ian Poulter

Irving, Texas

EMILY TILLO: I'd like to welcome Ian Poulter to the Interview Room. Ian, it's obviously been quite a whirlwind, coming off a T-2 finish at The Players, huge jump in the FedExCup standings from 136th to 58th.

So, that must be a huge sigh of relief for you and can you just comment on what it's been like?

IAN POULTER: Sure. It's been stressful, you know, for me, many different reasons. I think from a planning schedule it's probably been the toughest thing I've had to do, not knowing where you're going to play, whether you're going to play.

Obviously the turnaround in a couple of weeks means now I'm in a situation to plan the rest of the year's schedule, albeit I'm not in a couple of Majors, of which I still have the opportunity Overseas to get in those over the next couple of weeks.

But, for the most part, you know, I know pretty much what I'm going to be doing for the summer and it's nice because the family head back to the UK like they normally do each year and obviously I'll be doing exactly the same thing. So, I can spend in good time with them.

EMILY TILLO: You're making your fifth start here at the Byron Nelson tournament. Your best finish actually came in your first start, a T-3 in 2007.

How is your game feeling heading into this week and what's your game plan going forward?

IAN POULTER: The game plan is to go and have a little golf course right now to have a look at half 1 on Wednesday. It's actually nice to have an extra day at home, not playing the Pro-Am this week.

So, you know, gave me a bit more time to pack an extra suitcase to be able to get here late. But, obviously, have enough time to hit some balls this afternoon, look at the course and, as you said, I've played well here in the past, albeit it was a few years ago but I like the course. Obviously I feel good from obviously last week and hopefully we can continue that form.

EMILY TILLO: Cool. Open it up for some questions.

Q. Ian, speaking of your form, how would you compare your current form to some other hot stretches you've had in the past? I mean you mentioned last week how much freer you're playing now than before.
How would you compare those other stretches to this one?

IAN POULTER: I think my game is in better shape this year than it's been for many, many years. I don't believe my putting is quite as good as what it used to be right now, still trying to feel a hundred percent comfortable with a putter.

Obviously through the years I've tried different putters, I've tried some of the other techniques in terms of reading the greens and because of that I think I've lost a bit of the feel. It's starting to come back.

Last week and obviously Hilton Head were weeks where I felt I could have won the tournament had I putted anything like I putted in 2010 and 2012. So, for me, it's probably emphasis on working harder with the putter to get back to the stroke that I think I had in 2010 and '12. I'm using the same putter that I did in 2010 so I'm trying to rekindle a little bit of love with it.

But it's still a little bit far away. It's close. My game is better than it used to be, I think. So if it all jells together, then I'm hoping to continue with some good form.

Q. Ian, just your thoughts as you guys finish up here in Irving and if you have seen Trinity Forest, your thoughts on the new course, where this tournament will be next year. I don't know if you've seen Trinity Forest.
IAN POULTER: I have no idea.

Q. Just your thoughts making your way out of this place for the last time.
IAN POULTER: Okay. Yeah, obviously weren't aware where the event is leading on to. It's obviously been here for a long time. Obviously be nice to hold a trophy Sunday night and take it to a different venue next year, then. I don't know what else to tell you.

Q. Ian, were you surprised at your course strategy on Sunday down the stretch?
IAN POULTER: Not talking about it. Not interested. Not interested. I have no interest feeding the fire. Not interested.

Q. Were you surprised there was so much reaction to it?
IAN POULTER: I'm not interested at all. I play to win, end of story.

Q. Fair enough.
IAN POULTER: Good try, really good try.

Q. Ian, you talked about the last few weeks being stressful, obviously, as you're securing the rest of the season for you.
What benefit was there from being in that position especially at your age, kind of at a crossroads and how you're able to come through in a flourish --

IAN POULTER: Well, the benefit from --

Q. -- as far as testing you?
IAN POULTER: It tested me to the nth degree. That golf course as we saw Sunday unfold was playing as tough as it's played in previous years. It was playing as tough as it did in '9 when Henrik won.

When you take a look at the scores on Sunday and see how difficult it played for a number of guys, you know, guys that you would probably expect to have been in contention to win, you know, it was a tough day.

The golf course played -- it played tougher than I think most people thought with the greens softer from a perspective -- I'm not talking about softness in terms of balls pitching on the green, I'm talking slope-wise, less slope to all of the greens in the redesign and I think a few people would have thought with the condition of the greens that perhaps scoring would have been a bit better. It just goes to show how good a golf course it really is.

In terms of, you know, my play, it was good to test myself being in contention. I don't think it's happened like that for awhile. Obviously Hilton Head I was kind of there but had a poor Sunday, but to be in with a chance going through the back-9 knowing -- you know, I asked James, you know, was Si Woo still 2 shots ahead going down 16. That was my question to him walking off the 16th tee because I didn't look at the board at 15.

So, you know, I felt good, I felt good about how I played, I felt good about being in contention. You know, as I said, if I can hole a few putts, some key putts at the right time, then I think I'll be even more happy with my game.

Q. Ian, just curious if there's any comparison of being in the hunt at a tournament like The Players and your time in the Ryder Cup, any --
IAN POULTER: No comparison.

Q. Was it pretty easy for you to get back in that feeling of being in contention again last week and kind of just how did you feel going down the stretch there?
IAN POULTER: I felt more nervous on the front-9 than I did the back-9, I think just purely from the fact of, you know, Sunday was playing tough. There was a few tricky pin positions. We had wind that was very different. There were a number of holes on the front-9 that potentially could have been -- you know, the 4th hole, for instance, obviously 1 was straight into the wind, 4 was playing really, really tough. 7 was tough.

There were a number of holes on the front-9 where I think so you could have taken yourself out of the picture very quickly. I was more nervous on the front-9.

Eased through into the back-9 and, you know, it was -- I don't know where I'm going with this, by the way. I completely lot of my train of thought (laughter).

But no, I felt very comfortable on the back-9. I would like to have hit a couple of different shots, obviously not a shank up 18.

If I hit that shot into the last to about 6, 8 feet and holed the putt, it's a very different story for Kim coming up the last. He would have been under immense pressure even from being in the fairway to know he's got to make 4 to win and obviously I didn't do that.

So, I made it very easy for him at the last and he obviously was playing with Louis as well so he had an eye on who the next closest opponent was.

So, you know, I would have liked to have put him under a little bit more pressure on the last but that obviously didn't happen.

Q. Good playing last week.
IAN POULTER: Thank you, Bob.

Q. Prior to getting the good news from the PGA TOUR, I would assume the Ryder Cup was the furthest thing from your mind.
Now that you found out and you performed like you did, are thoughts of playing in Paris becoming a little more often into your head?

IAN POULTER: I've always -- I always feel there's an opportunity if I play well to make the Ryder Cup side, and whether -- even last year, even through, you know, through being injured, up until that point a year ago next week that, unfortunately, you know, it was too painful to play, I still had that fire in me to say, you know, if somehow I can pull it off, a major result which obviously didn't happen and I couldn't do that, then there would have been a chance.

So, I do believe there's a chance for 2018. It is a golf course I love. I've had some great success around that course. So, yeah, I'm definitely looking that far ahead I think to, you know, look at my schedule, look at the schedule for the rest of this year, look at the schedule for the early part of next year and try and be, you know, well back in the Top 50 where I'm playing the Majors, I'm playing all the right events to make sure I've got the best chance to obviously make that team.

Q. Ian, I'm wondering how many times you've seen the replay of the shot through the trees at 18 and now that you've had a few days to digest it, just what do you think --
IAN POULTER: It's hard not to see it on social media.

Q. Are you on social media?
IAN POULTER: Occasionally.

Q. What do you think?
IAN POULTER: What do I think? As crazy as it sounds, finding myself in that position in the bush obviously was a bit of a shock to the system but, you know, I was trying to hole the shot from the trees.

That's what I was trying to do because I still knew that obviously, you know, I didn't know where Si had hit it on the last because I hadn't obviously turned back to look at that stage, I was more taking care of, you know, trying to take a drop out of the bush.

I just obviously knew that if I can, somehow pull a miracle shot off to make 4 then he's still going to have to close out.

So, you know, not knowing if he hit it in the right hand rough or hit it in the water, that was unbeknown to me, I was still trying to be aggressive.

I was still trying to take on a shot, a very risky shot, 116 yards downwind, you know, towards the hazard off the pine up over a tree is not really a shot you want to be taking on but it's a shot I had to take on. It wasn't a case then of, you know, just trying to, you know, fudge it up somewhere near the green.

It was -- I had to go for the shot is what had to happen. I still felt I had a chance at that point. As it happened he was in the middle of the fairway and albeit I didn't hole it. So it was close but, you know, I still felt I had a chance.

Q. Of all the recovery shots you've had, does that rank fairly high?
IAN POULTER: Yeah. It's probably the highest, toughest shot I ever pulled off. I wouldn't want to go back and have another go at it, if that's what you're asking me. I'll give it a miss.

Q. I know you've only played here at the Byron a couple years but could you tell me some of the things that you're going to miss most about this place since it is leaving after this year?
IAN POULTER: Some of the things I'm going to miss most. Well, I'd like to say obviously if I would have won the tournament back in '07 which I didn't -- what I did finish?


IAN POULTER: Obviously it would be a big loss to obviously not play a course that you've had huge amount of success on but I've only played a few times.

It's a course I do like to play. I think the golf course sets up pretty good for me. I'm not sure there's a whole lot of things that I'm going to certainly miss.

Obviously with a new opportunity I'd like to see where it's going, being I've just been told today it's moving to a new venue. I might fall in love with the new venue. You know, it's probably hard to work out all the little bits and pieces. It's a good golf course, a good test. A fun place to play.

EMILY TILLO: Any other questions?

Q. Did you ever meet Byron?
IAN POULTER: No, not properly. No.

EMILY TILLO: Awesome. Thank you, Ian. Appreciate the time. Good luck.

IAN POULTER: Thank you.

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