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February 21, 2006

Ian Poulter


SCOTT CROCKETT: Ian, thanks for coming in, as always. A finalist two years ago, semifinalist last year. What about the progression to the finals this year?

IAN POULTER: I'm comfortable in the format; I think I have a decent match play record. And looking at my draw tomorrow, you've got to beat the best to win this golf tournament. So what difference does it make if it's first round, second, third, fourth or semis or finals? It's going to be a good match.

Obviously David played unbelievably well here last year, through 9, 10, 11, on the golf course, birdie on 9 and holes his second shot on 10, and hits a 5 wood to a foot on 11. That was a gimme eagle. He's pretty hard to play. So I'll give him a bit of the same back.

Q. Have you ever played anyone, whether it was match play or just in a stroke play tournament, that had a stretch like that, that you can recall?

IAN POULTER: I don't think so. It's pretty rare where you get people holing second shots and getting hitting second shots into par 5s to a foot. When you do get that, you're going to win the golf tournament, and that's exactly what he did. He pretty much done it for a few days, and there you go; that's why he won the tournament last year.

Q. Do you remember what you said to him?

IAN POULTER: Yeah, "nice shot" (laughter). It's match play. You don't stand and bow at every shot he makes. When he hits a good shot, you say it's a good shot. I'm not happy, am I? I'm not going to stand and have a five minute chew with him; I'm going to pack my bags and go home.

Q. What did you think when you saw the draw?

IAN POULTER: It didn't matter, because I was either playing I was playing DiMarco, the runner up, or I'm playing the defending champion. I don't think it matters who you're playing in any of the rounds. The top 64 guys in the world can all play golf. If he shoots 5 over, you've got to make sure you shoot 4 over. If he shoots 7 under, you shoot 8 under par.

You're going to get great golfers not playing great on the day and they're going to win a match. And yet you're going to get someone who is down the list going to shoot 5 or 6 under par. On any given 18 holes, someone who's higher ranked, if he doesn't play well, he's going to be out. It's a great format. And so its good fun.

Q. You mentioned this is a hugely significant week for you in World Rankings, isn't it?


Q. You need to get back in the top 50?

IAN POULTER: If I play just as good if not a bit better than what I did last year and manage to get into the final, I'll be back in the top 50. So it's a big week, really. I know my goals, I know what I've got to do to get back in the top 50, and my first goal is hit the first fairway tomorrow. I don't need to look at anything past that.

You can get ahead of yourself, you can get a bit ahead of yourself, and people have done that in the past. You can it's not over until it's over in match play.

Q. (Inaudible).

IAN POULTER: Playing really, really well. I've actually had a week off this week, and I've been in Carlsbad for a week. So I've been practicing really hard. I've been down at Cobra and Titleist working on my game, working with equipment I got at the start of the year. It's all the numbers are showing good stuff, so I'm very happy there.

I'm not happy with my putting, or I wasn't happy with my putting at the start of the year. I felt I should really have started off with a win at Abu Dhabi, and obviously last week in Australia I probably played the best golf I've played in years. And again, I didn't putt very well. I went down to Scotty Cameron's studio during the week, spent four and a half hours in there on the camera system and just worked out why I wasn't putting very well.

Q. Why?

IAN POULTER: Shoulders were slightly open, right forearm was in front of the left, and it's very difficult, if that is the case, to get the putt tracking back on the perfect line and going through on the perfect line. If I have a tendency with the right forearm in front of the left, that is what will happen; I will cut my putts. So we worked very hard on posture. And it's looking really, really, really good. It's no wonder why Tiger Woods is the best putter in the world; when he sees his putter in slow motion and through some of these cameras, it's perfect. So it's a great setup and he rolls the ball perfectly.

So I put myself in a much better setup position and I'm rolling the ball lovely. I've had some great practice over the last five, six days, really, to work on that. And I am it's much, much better.

Q. The film, do you get pictures of Tiger, and like this is how it should be?

IAN POULTER: You can see, yeah. They slow it down to 250 frames a second. So you can get the putter slowed down, just tracking back at this speed; it's very slow. So you can see exactly how everything is moving, how the putter head is moving, whether it's open and on the way back, square on impact and just open on the way through.

Q. What did you think when you first saw your putting stroke?

IAN POULTER: There's no surprise why I missed quite a few putts.

It's a fairly easy fix. And that is generally due to posture and setup. If you get your feet, knees, hips, shoulders absolutely square with your forearms, it's fairly easy to make a decent stroke from there. If you're not in a good setup position, you're going to have to manipulate the putter somehow to make a good stroke. So you're doing more work, really, if you don't get a good setup.

Q. Did you see anyone else's or care to see anyone else's?

IAN POULTER: No, didn't really need to. The best putter in the world, and you can see why he putts great. He has got probably the best putting stroke out there, one of the best.

Q. The last two years here have you had occasion where you've played fairly well?

IAN POULTER: First round two years ago, I didn't play very well. I didn't play very well, and then from there I played fantastic.

But last year I played, each day I was well under par. Last year I played great. I shot 7 , 8 under par and got beat in the third and fourth place. It's a funny game.

Q. (Inaudible.)

IAN POULTER: As I was going through the round, I was playing so good. If I played like I played, and I did play, in the semifinal round, I couldn't see myself being beat. It was just against David Toms that week, and he steamrolled everybody. The players that he his form was unbelievable. He's 4 & 3 and just it was awesome golf. There's nothing you can do when he is 5 under through three holes. Yeah, let's go to the next.

Q. When this tournament started in '99 there were 40 Americans amongst the 64, 11 Europeans; now they're down to 25 and Europe is up to 17. Any thoughts on that?

IAN POULTER: Why there's more Europeans?

Q. Or less Americans, which ever way you want to look at it. Is it cyclical, or do you see strong growth?

IAN POULTER: There is strong growth, if you look at Ryder Cups, if you look at certainly how many more Europeans come over to try to get their card over here and have succeeded. It's great for European golf that there are so many good golfers coming through, and English golfers, as well. The guys that are in the top 100, there's more than there's ever been, I think. So it's great for us, really.

Q. Do you see it more as a rise for not only Europe but Australia as well or sliding of Americans?

IAN POULTER: There's no sliding for Americans. It's just that there are good golfers from around the world wanting to play good golf. And they're wanting to play on a couple of levels, and that would be the PGA TOUR. It's a progression of the interest over the last ten years or so from Tiger playing good golf. Everybody wants to play everybody wants to compete against him.

Q. Is it going to be a shame that there aren't going to be more of these on European soil?

IAN POULTER: Yeah, I guess so.

Q. Is there talk about that?

IAN POULTER: Not really.

Q. (Inaudible.)

IAN POULTER: I will be in THE PLAYERS from last year's PGA record. It's not just top 50. Order of Merit position over here, is it the top 25? Yeah. I'm 18 something. I will be in Augusta. As we sit here, I fully planned it in the schedule.

Q. (Inaudible.)

IAN POULTER: Not yet (laughter). There's a $10,000 deposit, I guess. No, I've planned it in the way I've been playing, the way I started the year, and that's why I come over to America through end of November, December, January to practice, and I started off hitting the ball fantastic. I just wished I would have gotten my putt a little earlier.

Q. What do you have after this one?

IAN POULTER: I've got a week off next week, I'm back home for my Nana's funeral. She passed away on Wednesday, which was a big shame. It was her birthday on Sunday. So I'm gone for a couple of days and then come back for Honda, Bay Hill, TPC, play the Tavistock Trophy and then The Masters. And week off, then Houston, New Orleans, then go home for a week and play the British Masters.

Q. How do you think THE PLAYERS Championship moving to May will work as it relates to

IAN POULTER: You know, I haven't I've seen the schedule for next year, but I haven't really sat down in great detail and tried to work it out, how it's going to fit in and how all the tournaments are going to fit in. It's going to be a big change for a lot of guys. You know, people that have gotten European Tour schedules, people that have PGA TOUR schedules. For us it's going to be difficult to try to fit in and get the right mix of try to play both Tours. That's going to be difficult.

For the PGA guys, it's not going to be any problem at all. It's a shortened season and they can play some really good stretches of tournaments.

Q. Do you see it less appealing from a standpoint that you could come over and do either Honda or Bay Hill, PLAYERS, and build towards The Masters?

IAN POULTER: The way the schedule is set out right now, it's fantastic for the guys that are playing their schedules to come over and play golf. That will change. It makes it a lot more difficult for you to try and play both. But it has to be done. If that's what you want to do, then you've got to try to find a schedule that's going to work for you.

So that's what I'll do. That's what I'm sure Ernie and those boys are going to do, as well.

End of FastScripts.

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