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July 3, 2019

Ian Poulter

County Clare, Republic of Ireland

NEIL AHERN: Thank you very much for joining us. I know you played the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open in 2017 in Portstewart, a long, long way from here. I believe it's your first time in Munster since 2002. You might not know that, but it's a long time since the crowds down here have seen you. Are you looking forward to the week? I know you haven't been out on the golf course yet. But are you looking forward to getting out there.

IAN POULTER: Yeah, very much so. I think busy, busy part of the year, so I've had a good couple weeks off before the U.S. Open, and then obviously, a couple of weeks off after U.S. Open to get ready for seven tournaments in eight weeks. So it's a busy run, this being the first of that run on links golf courses. So very much looking forward to that.

The course, I haven't seen it yet. Today is really my first look. I think, you know, playing links golf is always fun, challenging. Brings out the best in all of us in terms of shot-making ability and I like what that stands for.

So to be able to put a couple of different clubs in the bag, challenge your ball flight, test your skills, this is a perfect opening week to obviously put that on my calendar.

NEIL AHERN: I know you're close with Paul McGinley, good friends from down the years. How much did his involvement in this tournament influence your decision to come here?

IAN POULTER: Yeah, Paul asked me a while ago if I would come play. Obviously it's a big tournament. I know I haven't played an awful lot of golf over here. You know, for me to do that for Paul, to come and play, to start off this run of events that we've got coming up right now, it's great. I've got a lot of support here in Ireland. You know, they have really taken to me quite well, and I'm looking forward to playing as much golf as I can and being competitive this week.

Q. You said you've not played a lot of golf recently, but you've played a hell of a lot at the start of the year and travelled a heck of a lot, as well. Is there a moment or week, where you thought, I've got to start pulling back now?
IAN POULTER: Yeah, third hole, Pebble Beach, when I made 8 (laughter).

It was a busy start to the year. It's fight funny, at the back etched last year, I kind of planned to have a quite season this year. We're like, yeah, let's see if we can get to 20 events; 28 is on the calendar right now. It's not easy. Playing two tours, playing the schedule we've kind of earmarked out, playing the majors, WGCs, looking at all of the good events you want to play, it's hard to start chopping tournaments away, even in the position that you're in, World Ranking points position, position from exemption. It's still difficult to not play golf.

So we've had a busy start to the year. I think, you know, definitely taking a chunk of time off -- the U.S. Open in the middle of that kind of four weeks off was a bit disappointing. Hopefully I've kind of recharged the batteries a little bit in the last few weeks before having another push again before taking time off again at the back end of the season.

It's been busy. I've tried to manage energy levels as much as I possibly can and hopefully I've fueled the tank again for another big push.

Q. On the same sort of theme, over 40, is there a feeling, right, I've got to make the most of this, or is it time to just sort of pick and choose?
IAN POULTER: Over 40, I'm nearer 45 than 40; in the form I'm in and the way I'm playing golf and the way I'm feeling, I'm enjoying golf. So I don't look at it as, you know, really, I have to kind of make hay as much as possible because I know there's going to be a slowdown coming in a few years' time. I'm not really viewing it like that.

I'm kind of viewing it like I want to push on. I want to try and get as high up as I possibly can in the World Rankings and really, by enjoying my golf, by being more relaxed, by being more focused, get rid of all the noise to concentrate on golf, I can still win tournaments. I can still compete week-in, week-out. Been on the ball a lot this year. I've been disappointed by the way I've finished a load of tournaments off. You know, because of that, it keeps the energy level, it keeps spurring me on because I know there's better stuff coming.

It's quite exciting being 43 and playing some of the best golf I've ever played, knowing you can mix it with some of the other players, is great.

Q. I suppose you have ten European tour wins, and I'm just wondering, you've played in The Irish Open in the past and previous Irish Opens. Going back to Paul McGinley, your great friend, that initial conversation that you had with Paul when you spoke to him about this year's Irish Open being at Lahinch, what did he tell you about the town of Lahinch, that made you want to come here in relation to other Irish Opens?
IAN POULTER: He said he thinks the golf course is perfectly suited to my type of golf, which is a huge plus. You know, tricky tee shots, some tight fairways. And you know, he felt it would be a great week for me.

So with that in mind, and obviously our friendship, I think it's a good thing to come and obviously support him and what he's done for the tournament. Yeah, it's going to be a good week, and you know, everything in and around the tournament, that kind of what we've done, as well, has been fun. So yeah, it's been great.

Q. Lastly, the town Lahinch, taking in the surroundings and the golf course, are you delighted with your decision now to come here?
IAN POULTER: Well, I've only been here a day, or not even a day yet. So at accommodation is level. We had a great dinner last night in a little hotel-ly eight-bedroom place just down the road, and I was just telling Luke this morning how nice the town of Lahinch is. I think there will be some fish and chips going down. Might enjoy a pint of begin mess, and have a great week.

Q. What's your explanation or thoughts on why you haven't finished tournaments off as well as you would have liked? And also, can we get some thoughts on you from the majors so far?
IAN POULTER: Mixed form in the majors. I think, you know, if I look back to the mistakes, obviously making 8 my third hole is never good. A couple of doubles and a quad is not helpful. When I look back at that from trying to evaluate it, I think I was sixth in birdies in the first two days.

So I did the good stuff really good, and unfortunately I made a couple of errors: Getting caught up in and around some of the surrounding bunkers; taking on the shot probably shouldn't have taken on at the time was really expensive; on a golf course that I felt would have been perfectly suited to my game -- didn't have to hit driver everywhere. Pebble Beach would have been an opportunity and that slipped past quite easily in a three-minute spell. That was really frustrating.

Obviously Bethpage Black is not an easy golf course, and when you look at the leaderboard and the way that panned out, it was probably one of those week where even in a practice round, you realised you had to have every aspect of your game perfect, not make any mistakes and it still would have been one of those weeks where you probably wouldn't have won the tournament. It was probably suited to the longer hitters, and that was always going to be very, very difficult.

The Masters, I had a chance. So going into the back nine a couple of shots off the lead; I'm not going to sit and reflect on 8-iron that came up in the water on the 12th hole when four of the last six guys hit it in the water. But anyway, I had 148 to carry, 160 to the back edge, 8-iron goes 164 ten yards into the wind. 8-iron should not go in the water, but it did. So we've seen it time and time and time again. You know, I got caught out a little bit. I was going for the pin.

You know, it's very easy to sit there and say, oh, just hit it over the lip of the bunker, but I was behind, looking at the calibre of players that were in position to win; I had to make a press forward. I obviously had bogeyed 11 and obviously I needed to rectify that quite quickly.

So even with there being two par 5s coming up, and knowing I would probably have to eagle one of those or certainly birdie both of them, you know, I kind of had to hit them pretty tight.

Evaluating that is quite easy. I gave it a go. I was in position. We got caught out with a heavy wind coming through those trees, and then that was a shame.

So it was, again, being in position there is always enjoyable, being in the mix is great. My form's been good. Why have I not finished up tournaments? I don't know, really. Wrong shot at the wrong time. Not taking advantage of a couple of putts. But I think as much as I put myself in position is a good thing. I've been in position more this year than I have in many previous years. Just keep knocking on the door.

Q. Do you know anything about Portrush?
IAN POULTER: I took Luke there two years ago when we played just down the road. I played the morning round. I can't remember whether it was Thursday or Friday. We played in the morning, and I took Luke over there to play, so I walked around with him. That's as much as I know of it. I spoke to Darren yesterday, and he told to give him a call and he would take me around there Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday of The Open; if anyone's got theory of the golf course, it would be Darren. He's played it a couple of times.

Q. You mentioned it's seven of the next eight weeks you're going to play. Do you still relish golf like that and which one is the missing week? Which one is missing out?
IAN POULTER: I'm looking forward to the next run. The runs I've done this year have been good. You know, start of the season, played a few. Played five in a row to start the season off, so that was a pretty decent start.

The one I'm missing is the week after WGC. So play the next four. I'll go to Memphis. I'll fly back to the U.K. to be with the family and I'll take them all back to America. We're going to go to New York obviously for the first FedEx event and hopefully play the three FedEx events that I'd like to play. Being 60th right now, obviously could do with having a good Open, good WGC, and a good first two FedEx events and make it into the third one.

I've had four weeks off in the last five weeks. We played golf, two competitive rounds in the middle of the that. You know, practicing at Woburn a lot. Having some family time and being back at home, chilling, is a good thing. So you know, really, really quite excited about what's to come.

Q. And how did the Ferrari come through its recent trip?
IAN POULTER: It did very well, I have to say, for a car that's 35 years old and only travelled 2,400 miles in the 35 years, I put 600 miles on the clock, so we've taken it to 3,000 miles. It did exceptionally well. It was nice.

You know, when you've got a passion for cars and you sit there looking at it, not really driving it over the five years I've had that car, it was nice to, you know, to stretch its legs with some of its brothers and sisters, and enjoy kind of three, four days away with it was great.

Q. Did you manage to reach top speed or more of a touring thing?
IAN POULTER: I had Katy sitting next to me. We didn't reach top speed, no. She's not the best of passengers, so I tried to be careful around those mountain roads, yeah. Wouldn't be good slipping off the side. But no, we stretched its legs nicely on the odd occasion.

Q. How typical is it to just sit and look at cars most of the time when they are meant to be driven? They look fantastic. Is it difficult just leaving them in the garage?
IAN POULTER: They are meant to be driven. They are obviously built to drive. But when, you know, when you have an asset like that that's appreciating, I think they are works of art. Other people, you know, don't think they are works of art. I enjoy them for what they are. And when you do get the opportunity to drive them, it's fantastic.

So you know, there's a dual purpose and reason to having them. One obviously is to drive them, so when you do get that chance, yeah, it's great. Especially on the roads that we drove, it was pretty special.

Q. At 43, just wondering in terms of the majors, do you see yourself like a vintage Ferrari with very few miles on the clock and a lot more miles to run there?
IAN POULTER: I've got plenty of miles on the clock, don't worry about that. I've got lots of miles on the clock.

Q. How do you view them at this stage of your career?
IAN POULTER: Just to go and enjoy them. Obviously when you look at Brooks winning four of his last eight, very Tiger-esque from back in the day, you know, you know your percentage chance of winning is slim. And being 43, I don't haves many to come as what I've just played; that I know. So for me, it's about just going out to enjoy them, try and be prepared as I possibly can. Try not to make any silly mistakes and if one comes along, then come along. Try and take your opportunity. Be aggressive.

You can't just play good golf and expect one to fall in your lap. You have to continue to be aggressive with the type of players that play to be lucky enough to win one. You know, if I get in that position to try and take one, I'll try.

Q. Just wondering if the opportunity did come along, chance to win did present itself, do you feel better prepared now at this stage of your career perhaps to deal with that?
IAN POULTER: Yeah, I think so. I think I'm older and wiser. You know, I've got the shots to hit and it's about obviously executing those at the right time. You know, I don't have a major, so I can't tell you how I would react under that pressure with a few holes to go. I think I've played enough pressure rounds of golf and hit enough pressure shots in my time to be able to pull them off, so you know, hopefully I'll have the opportunity.

NEIL AHERN: Thank you very much, Ian. Have a great week.

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