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June 14, 2018

Ian Poulter

Southampton, New York

THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon. Welcome again to the 118th U.S. Open Championship at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. I'm very pleased to have with us this afternoon Ian Poulter, who shot a 1-under 69 in the first round today with some fairly windy conditions.

Ian, can you talk about the round and the conditions you've had out there today?

IAN POULTER: I can, yes. You're right, it was extremely windy, and it was extremely difficult. So to come off the golf course under par is extremely satisfying.

When I look back to 2004, my first U.S. Open, that wasn't a very enjoyable experience. Today was the exact opposite. To post that number today, very pleased, and I played very well, hit some great shots.

7, 11 were obviously highlights of the day. I think, to play those two par 3s in four shots was a big help to, obviously, posting 1 under par.

THE MODERATOR: And you mentioned that 2004 was your first. This is your 13th U.S. Open. Coming into this week, you obviously know that patience is such a big part of it. And you, having played here before, how much of that is involved in your preparations as you come into the championship rounds?

IAN POULTER: Patience is everything, especially this week and especially any U.S. Open. Every one of the U.S. Opens I've played in the past, you know, I've kind of -- I've been disappointed. I've been angry. I've been frustrated.

They're tough. They're always set up difficult. They're supposed to be difficult. But shooting over par is hard to take sometimes. So this week for me, from a mindset perspective, I know I'm playing good golf. I got off to a decent start this year, and it's really about trying to just enjoy my golf.

I certainly did that today. I enjoyed everything about the round. I mean, there was a couple of stressful shots there in the fescue, which I made a couple of good up and downs, and I only dropped a couple of shots. For me, it was an enjoyable round of golf, and I'll enjoy this afternoon. And then we got three more stressful days to come.

Q. Ian, great round today.
IAN POULTER: Thank you.

Q. I was wondering if you had anticipated this west/northwest wind and if that affected your strategy? And did you sort of prepare for this type of situation?
IAN POULTER: I had no real strategy apart from going through my yardage book last night, which I normally do pre-round.

So when I looked at the wind forecast, when I looked at how strong the wind was going to be, I kind of figured out where and how difficult some of those holes were going to play so I didn't have a surprise when I got to the course today. I knew kind of every direction, every hole. Obviously, a couple of tee boxes were moved slightly forward.

But apart from that, I didn't really come into the week with a game plan. I just came in here feeling pretty relaxed, feeling pretty good about my golf game. You know, I was going to go out to just enjoy my golf.

Q. Is it golf flight? Is it contact? What are some of the things you have to do to be effective in a situation like that?
IAN POULTER: I mean, you really have to control your ball in the wind. A number of the tee shots on this wind are crosswinds. Now, I know the fairways have been widened quite a lot in certain areas, but it's still very, very, very difficult to kind of get it in play.

There's a couple of blind tee shots as well. Obviously, 10's a tricky tee shot, and the rough is three foot deep. So when you do hit one offline, it's going to happen, it's going to happen all week, you know when it's heading off line, that you're going to have to scramble really well.

So to limit that today for me was really pleasing. Three tough days to go.

Q. Ian, it seems like one of the biggest challenges out there is guessing how that wind's going to react. Can you talk about second shots in? Sometimes it looks like the flighted-down balls are being unaffected, some are being more affected the higher they go, which you would expect that. Talk about that guesswork and how razor thin that edge is to getting that right.
IAN POULTER: The guesswork about second shots on this golf course is hard because the window of where you're trying to land the ball on some of these greens to give yourself an opportunity for -- you know, for an easy par is only a couple of table tennis tables.

So when you've got a window that small and you're trying to predict is the wind 15 mile an hour? Are you going to gust to 25 mile an hour? Are the elevated second shots into 9, are they going to get affected? Is the ball going to land and release out? How quick are the greens drying out?

You know, it is a lot of guesswork, and you have to be patient. You're not going to get it right all the time. You're not going to predict the wind right all the time, and you're not going to hit the perfect golf shot all the time.

So all of those factors add up to it being a stressful day. I guess I'm just walking off the course a little less stressed than some others.

Q. Ian, talked to a couple players who have expressed a little bit of surprise at the setup that maybe some of the pins were not quite in the right place. They were in high spots, given the wind and so forth. You figured it out. But if you were just going to be as objective as you could, do you think that the course was set up well enough, given the wind conditions?
IAN POULTER: I thought the setup was brilliant (laughter). It's not often I've ever said that at a U.S. Open.

The conditions today, the greens were soft. We had a lot of moisture yesterday, which softened the greens, and the greens were a lot quicker to putt on today than yesterday. So you've got a golf course that's going to dry out very quickly. There's a number of holes on the golf course where they don't really have an option with pin positions. They can't be too adventurous.

You're going to find a pin position on a 3.5-plus percent gradient, which is extremely steep. You don't normally see above 3, and here you have to. Holes like 7, you know, which obviously caused some issue 14 years ago, is one of those greens. You just have to know coming in that you're going to have a couple of pin position that's going to be tricky, and you've got to be super careful.

Q. I was just wondering if you had any trouble with your ball, the wind blowing the ball on the green or if anyone in your group had an issue with that?
IAN POULTER: We didn't. We didn't have any movement on the green with the balls. So, I mean, they were oscillating a tiny bit, but there's a couple of greens which are super exposed. And when you've got a gust at 25 mile an hour-ish, potentially the ball is going to oscillate, but we didn't have any move.

Q. Being a good wind player, you see the forecast, does it give you a little lift before going out?
IAN POULTER: Yeah, I definitely think, for me, I like the way the golf course sets up in the wind. I've played enough golf through the years now to know my game suits kind of windy, tough conditions. Looking at the forecast last night, we knew it was going to be a stiff wind. I didn't quite think it was going to be up to kind of 25 mile an hour wind.

But, yeah, I was pretty comfortable going out there today, knowing it was going to be tricky.

Q. Ian, there's a lot of golf fans sitting at home interested, watching this, and they're like, man, these guys are really struggling out there today. Can you just put it into perspective the difference between what you're facing today in this kind of a test versus a regular PGA TOUR event that they're used to seeing you guys shoot low numbers in?
IAN POULTER: You never see three-foot deep rough eight feet off a fairway. So that's why you'll see the scores you see. We got a lot of crosswinds on a lot of par 4s, par 5s. It's very easy to make a mistake. And even the par 3s this week, you can make double, triple extremely quickly if you get yourself short-sided.

So this is a very good golf course. It's a very difficult golf course. And when you mix it with drying greens and a perfect day like today, it's just going to be tough.

So you can't compare it really to a normal -- to a regular event. It's not a regular event.

THE MODERATOR: Ian Poulter, great start with a 1-under 69 here at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. Great round today. Look forward to watching you tomorrow.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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