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September 25, 2018

Ian Poulter

Guyancourt, France

STEVE TODD: Delighted to be joined by Ian Poulter, first man in the interview room for this Ryder Cup.

We all know how much The Ryder Cup means to you. Just give us a sense of what it's like being back in the team room last night as a player again.

IAN POULTER: Pretty exciting, I have to say, to be back. Obviously last time, vice captain; this time, as a player. It's been a great couple of weeks since knowing Thomas had chosen me to play.

So just kind of rekindling thoughts of all the previous times I've played, and I've been pretty excited. Done some good work in Orlando.

But last night was kind of, you know, great to get with the guys. It was a relaxed evening. We had some fun. Had some banter in the team room, and it's always a very special week from a team perspective, getting with the guys, getting to know the guys on an even kind of more personal level than what you ever have in the past. We've got some rookies on the team, and it's good to see those guys having fun, as well.

Q. As an experienced member of the side, what can you do to help the rookies feel more comfortable and aware of what's about to hit them?
IAN POULTER: I think it's about explaining the whole process. There's a lot going on, even from the likes of this morning. Making sure they are bringing their waterproofs to the photo shoot, silly, simple things like that, which, if you've never been part of a Ryder Cup Team, you're not going to know every little detail.

So just to kind of help them along the way to make it a little easier for them, and you know, give them bits of advice along the way, which they are going to experience themselves. It's a daunting week. That first tee stand, I went out there yesterday to have a little look from the top, and it's pretty big.

They will be fully aware of what's happening come what Friday morning, that's for sure. But my job this week is to have a level of experience in that team room to help those guys through this fun week.

Q. You had mentioned the banter in the team room. Can you give us a flavour of what's been happening and who is the ringleader?
IAN POULTER: We always do -- Team Europe are great from a video perspective and a perspective of team bonding.

So we had a great video clip last night, which was done by Conor, and he kind of took everyone off in the team, and it was extremely funny, I have to say. I'm not sure you guys are going to get to see it, but I can tell you it was probably ten minutes long, and it was hilarious.

You know, just clips like that, which kind of help the team get together. Although we're taking the Mickey out of one another, it's quite a good way to start the week off.

Q. On a personal level, whether it was by injury or form or even age, was there any part of you at any time that wondered if you would ever be playing again, and at what point did you realise you might have a chance back?
IAN POULTER: I guess when you are, you know, at the low of lows, and that wasn't that long ago, there is a little -- you know, there's a little voice in the back of your head that says: You might not get back to as good as you was.

But I was at a dinner December 2016, and I was asked a question on stage at a PGA dinner: What's left for me in golf? And you know, I answered the question, "I feel I've got more wins in me." And I said then, "I'm going to make the team in Paris."

That's been a goal for the last 18 months, 20 months. It's been something which has kept me going from a motivational standpoint.

It was difficult being vice captain last time, knowing how much I've helped the team in the past and I wanted to help the team in any way I could, so vice captain was a great role. But I felt this time around, I really wanted to make the team. I felt, you know, if I work hard, if I refocus properly, restructure things, then I definitely could make this Ryder Cup Team, which I have, so I'm pretty proud.

Q. What sticks out from your first Ryder Cup, your first day showing up? Anything in particular?
IAN POULTER: What sticks out -- from all of them or just the first one?

Q. Just the first one.
IAN POULTER: I think, you know, the excitement level going down to that first tee shot, for me, was something very special. It's hard to explain, and I've tried to explain to a number of people, you know, through the years what that tee shot means and what the feeling is in your body when you're walking down to that tee shot.

And as a player that's played in multiple majors now, it's different. Walking to the first tee at Augusta, walking to the first tee at St. Andrews, walking to the first tee in The Ryder Cup is that different. That's very hard to explain. It's hard to explain to someone who hasn't had to hit that tee shot before.

So for me, when I think back to 2004, the stand is nothing like what we have today. So it really is going to be quite a special moment Friday, and it's going to be very interesting to see.

Q. You've been part of the teams where I'm sure Tiger was a big part of the discussions and the need to make a statement when he's on the tee. Is that even more so after Sunday?
IAN POULTER: Yeah, I mean, when you watch the coverage, and I did watch the coverage, to see him win again, it was good for golf. In fact, it's amazing for golf.

I think it's good for him personally to get back over the line from 2013 I think; it's been a long time. There were definitely question marks, when you think back just a short period of time when I kind of was struggling a bit, and I looked to see where he'd been, it's quite inspirational to see how he's come back as good as he's come back.

You know, to win the way he did was extremely impressive. As a golf fan perspective, I think it's great. For The Ryder Cup, I think it's great. And you know, it's good to have Tiger Woods playing the type of golf he's playing because he certainly makes The Ryder Cup even more special.

Q. What's your social media policy this week?
IAN POULTER: I've been active on it. I mean, I'm Tweeting. Would you like to be in the next picture or -- (laughter) I mean, the policy is obviously we can. You know, we can use social media. We just obviously need to respect the boundaries of the team room. The team room is there for privacy for us to have a little bit of downtime away from, you know, the golf course action.

So yeah, we just need to respect people's privacy in the team room.

Q. We all see your passion and your fire in this version of an event. Wondering if you could run me through the pros and cons of you having another fiery partner versus, say, an ice, cool guy like Rose or Stenson?
IAN POULTER: Cool? Ten million cool. (Smiling).

I've played a bit with obviously Justin through the years and been pretty successful. I've had a role where I played with Stephen Gallacher at Gleneagles, and obviously Stephen is a different type of character, a lot quieter.

So it's going to be interesting this week who I'm going to be paired with. Is it going to be with an experienced player, or is it going to be with one of the rookies?

There is a big difference between the two. You know, whoever I'm partnered with needs to be comfortable with how I am on the golf course, and I need to be comfortable with them.

Q. Do you prefer another rah-rah guy, or do you want someone that levels you out at the moments you need?
IAN POULTER: A Rahm-Rahm or a rah-rah? I really don't mind. Whoever Thomas feels that whoever I'll be playing with, I'll be pretty happy. We have a strong team, and I'm happy to play with any of them.

Q. I don't know if you have the whole family with you here this week, but I saw Luke --
IAN POULTER: Luke is with me.

Q. How special is that to be able to share this week with him now that he's a little bit older and really appreciates what his dad is doing?
IAN POULTER: It's very special. He was on the plane when I played my first Ryder Cup 14 years ago. There's a lovely picture on the front of a magazine back then when he was asleep cuddling the trophy, and Sergio was leaning over the back of his chair, and he was kind of just touching the trophy and the lid fell off and smacked Luke on the head, which woke him up.

To be able to bring him this time around, where he fully understands it; he understands golf now as a young man at 14, as an excitable character as he is; apple doesn't fall far from the tree. You know, it's great to have him here. He wants to be in the action. It was nice yesterday that I could take him in the team room, the locker room, show him around the surroundings.

It's great. It's really nice. I mean, I'm not going to get to see a lot of him now. He stayed with us Sunday night when we arrived, but now he's with my mum and my dad in the family hotel. Not that I'm going to get much more time with him, but I hope he's going to have a fantastic week. I know he's going to.

Yeah, it's very special to share that with him.

Q. I think I know the answer to this question, but I'll ask it anyway. You have a fantastic individual record in The Ryder Cup, but if I said to you, you wouldn't win a point this week but Europe win on Sunday night, would you accept that?
IAN POULTER: Of course. 100 per cent.

Q. Can you just expand on that? Why does it matter so much? It's not about yourself obviously; it's about the team?
IAN POULTER: It's always about the team, and however -- however you go about putting that trophy in Thomas's hands, it would be a very proud moment to be part of that team.

So we win together, we lose together. But as long as we win as a team, that's all that really matters.

Q. I remember talking to three, four, five Americans before Medinah, if there was one player on the European side they would hate to lose to, and oddly enough, you were a unanimous pick.
IAN POULTER: Funny, that.

Q. Do you sense that? And is there a part of you that relishes that?
IAN POULTER: I take it as a huge compliment, I think, more than anything else. It's a position -- it's a daunting position to be in to know that everyone really wants to take you down, but quite frankly, I want to take them down just as much.

That's why this week is so special. You can be friends week-in, week-out and be good friends week-in, week-out, but when it comes to The Ryder Cup, there's something extra special there, and it means so much to want to win and have to win.

Q. How important is home support going to be over the next week, and do you thrive off a bit of needle between the European and American fans?
IAN POULTER: Yes. It's going to be loud this week, and obviously home support here I think is a huge factor in this, and it's why we have been successful for so long in Europe.

You know, when you look at the stand on the first hole, just to see that from one aspect or when you look around this golf course, it's a perfect golf course to surround every hole with a lot of people.

Home fans, even the Americans will tell you, as well: On home soil, there's definitely help, a helping factor there. To get behind your team is a big part of trying to win that trophy.

Q. You never know what's going to happen in the future, but if this were to be your last home Ryder Cup, are you thinking in those terms, drinking it all in?
IAN POULTER: It won't be.

Q. Are you determined to play loads more?
IAN POULTER: I would like to think I've got more in me; I'll say that. I mean, I really do.

I think how I've played this year is hopefully the start of me kicking forward again to play in some more. I don't want to think -- the reason I answered it that way is I don't want to think that this is my last hurrah.

I would like to be part of Team Europe moving forward, and I would like to play some more. It's that special to be part of -- a playing member of a team. But if it is and I can support it in other ways, then that would be great, as well.

Q. Seeing the passion you had from the start, you still feel the same way about putting the European jersey on?
IAN POULTER: I'm more excited today than I was in 2004, if that's possible.

Q. You know the course probably as well as anyone, and you've had a fair bit of success around here. How great an advantage is it going to be for yourself and the other European guys who also know it pretty well?
IAN POULTER: I definitely think it's a help to us for sure. You know, as much golf as we've played, I think it's probably the most played venue as a Ryder Cup venue for all of the European players that have played.

So we definitely have a feel of how this golf course has played in very different weather conditions, as well. We've got a mixed wind this week. I think in practise rounds, it's going to be from one direction it switches come what Friday. We would have experience that had in all the rounds we've played around here.

Yeah, I definitely think we have an understanding of how this golf course can play.

STEVE TODD: Thank you for joining us.

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