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July 21, 2017

Ian Poulter

Southport, England

STUART MOFFAT: Good evening, everyone. It's my pleasure to welcome Ian Poulter to the interview room. Ian is currently tied for 4th place at 3-under par.

Ian, some difficult playing conditions today, can you give us your thoughts on your performance today.

IAN POULTER: Well, on the scorecard it was a very boring round of golf, but it kind of wasn't from the perspective of how I had to kind of piece my way around this golf course. It was tricky. 35-mile-an-hour wind at times and it was a different wind that we with had from yesterday.

So the golf course played completely different. Holes that were hybrid, sand wedge were kind of driver, 4-iron today. So it really was a complete 180.

Nice birdie on 12, and then a little mistake on 16. Didn't commit to the shot I wanted to play; it was a shame. I had about a 12-foot par-putt there, and a good up-and-down on the last.

So it was a solid day's work in the office.

Q. How does it feel to be back in the mix at a major tournament?
IAN POULTER: It feels absolutely marvelous, it really does. Walking up 18, just walking from greens to tees was really pretty special today. Huge galleries and they were really pulling for me. So it was really nice to be in position, keep churning out decent scores and keeping myself on the board. It was great.

Q. Given the conditions, was it a better round than your first round? And how did the time of the suspension affect you, if at all?
IAN POULTER: Yeah, I think the round was probably better than yesterday's round, from the perspective of how difficult the course was playing. From 12 and 13 onwards, the last hour and 20 minutes of play was really tough, hour and 40 minutes, was really, really hard, to get a strong wind switch on 13 from in off the right to down off the right, dropping 20 degrees in temperature was not really what we thought would happen. But, yeah, I mean overall I think it was very solid performance.

What was your second question?

Q. The suspension.
IAN POULTER: The suspension didn't really affect us too much, to be honest. Obviously a lot of rain fell when we got to the 16th green. So in a five-minute spell we knew there would be some areas on greens that might hold a bit of moisture, and that's exactly what happened. They kind of told us about that walking off the tee box. But by the time we got in position to hit our third shot into 17, they were squeegeeing the green. There was one area on that green which had a bit of casual water.

Q. Obviously there's a lot of golf to play, but as a guy that's dreamt of winning this championship, I just wonder if by Sunday night's time you're hoisting the Jug, given everything you've gone through the last year or so and grinding it back here, what kind of accomplishment that would be, if you can characterise that?
IAN POULTER: I think it's going to be difficult for me to talk about that right now. For me to use up some mental energy thinking about holding that Claret Jug come what Sunday night, there's a lot of golf to be played between now and then. I'm very focused on what I'm doing right now. I'm going to love to grab that thing with two hands, if I can.

So I would like to talk to you Sunday evening and tell you how it feels, if that happens, rather than tell you right now exactly what it would feel like. I think you can guess how good it would feel like after the year I've had.

Q. On that line, you did say yesterday that you've had some down moments, wondering if you'd get back to this point. So as you were in this position in the past, what were your feelings on a Friday night going into the weekend? And do you have any new perspective because of what you've been through?
IAN POULTER: I'm definitely enjoying my golf right now because of what's happened. So I wasn't in this position in 2008. I came from a bit further back to get myself in position and had a pretty strong Sunday.

Tomorrow is going to be -- tomorrow and over the weekend is going to be a different position, teeing off nice and late, which is great. But I'm in a good frame of mind. I feel confident. The large confidence tank that was empty a few months ago is starting to fill up. And I like it when it gets full up. I kind of play -- I play some of my best golf when I'm pretty confident. And I'm excited for this weekend; I can't wait.

Q. How much do you attribute this to increasingly better form or positive memories from last time here, how you performed last time here?
IAN POULTER: I contribute this to all of that. I contribute it to the performance over the last four months. TPC was huge. I mean, it really was. I can't explain how big a week that was for me mentally to be able to come over and play a stretch of tournaments like I'd just played, leading in and qualifying for this week.

I'm pulling hard this week on memories of how I remember 2008. I think the only memories I really have of 2008 was Sunday's round of golf, because I wasn't quite in position. I mean, people were falling away, and I found myself moving up through the board. So every moment I'm on the golf course right now I'm thinking a lot about Sunday's round of golf in 2008.

And the fans are great. I'm playing hard for them, as well, because they're giving me a lot of energy on the course.

Q. What is it that you've done or did during the last year to get yourself out of this rough patch, and what do you think it is about the game at this point that allows you to be down low but then be right up at the top?
IAN POULTER: I didn't make the calculation error, someone else did that calculation error and kind of recalculated. So that was a huge help. I mean, that's 80 percent of it right there. Another chunk was sitting back to reflect on the position where I was and how things aren't too bad.

So from that perspective to go out and enjoy my golf and play the golf that I played a couple of months ago at TPC to enable me to be in this position. And I said it earlier, to fill up the confidence tank is what was taking a very, very long time. I was low. I was down. I was not happy playing golf. And obviously things just multiply when you're in that situation. So to be in a position to behind the scenes to clear all that clutter away, start a fresh, and have a new perspective on what it is you're doing definitely has helped.

Q. That was a pretty severe test of tolerance today. How do you prepare yourself mentally knowing that this is going to happen?
IAN POULTER: Well, I think one thing is doing as much homework as you possibly can. I think overnight we knew the winds were going to be -- on the weather app, it said gusting to 40 miles an hour. I'm not sure whether it quite got to 40, but there were definitely gusts there over 30 miles an hour, knowing the wind direction, knowing how this golf course is going to play, providing you've done enough homework and you understand this golf course. You just try and mentally piece your way around. And it's going to be tough -- always going to be tough for everybody in those conditions. And it's about staying committed to the shots you choose and try not to make too many mistakes. If you do, just limit them.

Q. You're going to have to chase down a couple of Americans ahead of you. Does that fire you up to get your Ryder Cup eyes popping?
IAN POULTER: This isn't quite Ryder Cup, but it is The Open Championship. So whoever is in front, whether they're American or whether it's another Englishman or wherever they're from, I'm obviously going to want to get myself in front of them come what Sunday night. So this isn't about an Englishman against a couple of Americans. There's a lot of players in this field that are great players and that are going to find themselves come what Sunday afternoon.

So I'm not thinking too far ahead. I'm just trying to mentally prepare myself for tomorrow. Check the weather forecast again, try to work out a plan tonight for tomorrow, and try and plot my way around the golf course again.

Q. How good was the up-and-down on 18?
IAN POULTER: It was -- yeah, it was a 9 out of 10 up-and-down, I would say, for difficulty. The one plus I had over there was that it was into a little bit of wind, so I could kind of hit a soft flop shot and get it to stop. I played it -- I didn't quite think I could get it that close. I thought I could kind of get it within sort of four or five feet.

So, yeah, it was a big up-and-down at that time. It was a poor 6-iron. I actually had a perfect number to hit a good 6-iron. I wanted to try to make birdie up the last to try to get one back. I didn't birdie either of the par-5s, and obviously dropping a shot on 16, it would have been nice to have taken one, but obviously in that position to up-and-down it was key.

Q. You mentioned the support. It's amazing how many of them stay out in those conditions. Anything in particular said to you or showed to you that stood out?
IAN POULTER: I mean, you know, just little kids out there. There's probably a six-year-old, five or six-year-old kid out there, he followed the whole way around. He was in a little yellow jacket, it was pouring down with rain, he didn't have an umbrella, but with his dad. And he kept saying, "Come on, Poults. Come on, Poults." I mean, that's nice. These fans are hardened fans to any kind of condition, and for them to stay out in those cold, windy, rainy conditions, it's special. And they definitely help you along the way. Because it's not easy out there right now.

Q. Kind of jumping off that a little bit, with these conditions that generally we get here at this championship, can you characterise how much more importance patience is at this championship versus others, when things kind of go sideways pretty quick?
IAN POULTER: I mean, it happens every -- it's not every Open, but there's a number of Opens you can think back to, Muirfield was one where it was brutal conditions on Saturday. And obviously back in 2008 was another week which was tough conditions. U.S. Opens are a stern test. And you have to have a lot of patience to play in that. It's really about the commitment level that you have to choose to execute all of your shots. And half the battle is understanding where to hit the shot, and half the battle is not allowing the course to overpower you. So you know where the trouble is. You know where the cross bunkers are. You know where you shouldn't be hitting it. And when you've got a strong 30-mile-an-hour wind, 35-mile-an-hour wind, it's hard not to think where those areas of danger are.

So you can take yourself out of position mentally before you've even hit the shot.

Q. I know you had your son out with you during practise, and he was helping with the club selections and so on. Did he give you any advice last night? And what do you think you would say to him?
IAN POULTER: There was no club selections from him last night. He actually went out to play golf with John Daly's lad last night. So he played 8 holes, and there was a little matchup and he managed to be successful in his little match. So he'd come home pretty pumped last night and was excited to play some good golf.

It's just been great to have him here for three weeks. He really is a joy to be around. He's passionate. He's young. He's excitable. He's just like any other 13-year-old kid. He's in the shop buying hats and little bits and pieces of memorabilia. He's a lot of fun to be around. And it's nice, Katie and the kids decided to come up yesterday, so I've got the whole family here again. It's great.

Q. How are you going to be with carrying a lot of the home hopes this weekend, all of those fans are going to be looking at you this weekend?
IAN POULTER: Hopefully stronger than I was in 2008.

Q. Were you ever that little six-year-old boy in the yellow jacket? And if so, who were you following?
IAN POULTER: No, I wasn't. I don't think I was at a tournament venue before my teens, really. Took us a long time to get to my first tournament.

And, yeah, my first Open Championship would have been at Sandwich. I remember that pretty clearly. I think I was 15ish at the time. So would that have been early '90s. Someone in here will be able to tell us.

Q. '93?
IAN POULTER: There you go, that was my first Open I ever went to, '93. So I was 17 at the time.

Q. And how did you watch it?
IAN POULTER: We drove down there for the day. It was close enough. It was amazing. It was a great experience. I remember following a number of guys around who I'd looked up to, Freddie signed that old Ping putter of mine. I remember getting a golf ball from a number of players. I was one of those excited 17-year-old kids.

Q. There are four major winners at the top of the leaderboard. After everything you've been through in the last year, do you still have that same self belief that you can go toe to toe and beat these guys?
IAN POULTER: I'm in a bonus week. I qualified for The Open. I'm loving it. I really am. This is a massive bonus for me to be in this position. I haven't played a major for a little while. And I can't wait. I'm excited. I'm pumped up. I feel my game's coming back to form.

So, yeah, I mean I'm ready to go out there toe to toe with anyone this weekend.

Q. Just curious if you had any more details on Luke Poulter over little John Daly? And were you afraid they'd go to the pub afterwards?
IAN POULTER: No, any more details? No, they were -- well, one was very upset when he'd come back in the house, and unfortunately that was little John. But Luke was kind of rubbing it in, as he took a 20 pound note from him. So poor little John was not best pleased.

Q. How did Luke learn to rub it in?
IAN POULTER: I'm not sure. It must be his mother (laughing).


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