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April 10, 2008

Ian Poulter


LARRY PUGH: Ian Poulter, you had a great day, congratulations. Any comments that you would like to make?
IAN POULTER: Nice to be here on a Thursday afternoon. It's great.
LARRY PUGH: I have a question. What club did you use for your hole-in-one on 16?
IAN POULTER: I hit 8-iron from 169 yards. The wind was a little down off the right-hand side, so it was a perfect 8-iron to go ahead and hit it pretty solid.

Q. You showed you really do have the talent to be the proper No. 2.
IAN POULTER: If I work hard, and keep playing like this, then who knows.
You know, I think it's achievable if you play good over a good, you know, season or two, and I think everybody out there knows it.
So if I can play like I did today, certainly, then anything is achievable.

Q. Did you know right off the club on 16 that it hit?
IAN POULTER: I mean, I flushed it, and I knew I had to flush it. So as soon as it left the club, I knew it was going to be pretty good. Obviously the bank on the right-hand side is your friend with that pin position today. You know, you just want to see it go in. I mean, from pitch-in, it's got about 25 feet from the pitchmark to get to the hole, and it's quite nice to see it drop.

Q. How about the reaction? How did that feel?
IAN POULTER: Massive. Unbelievable buzz. You've got a few thousand people on the left-hand side and you've probably got a few more this year seeing as they have cleared some of the trees on the left-hand side and put some more spectators there, so it was a special moment, and the hairs on the back of your neck were standing up. It was great.

Q. What does that compare on the list for you in terms of feeling?
IAN POULTER: There's an instant adrenaline rush. That's probably the biggest adrenaline rush I've had. It was a great buzz.

Q. How do you plan to sustain this over a period of four days? Today is a great high, but to sustain this over a period of time; do you have any idea how you might do that?
IAN POULTER: Just do what I did today to be honest. Try to be patient and stay within yourself and just keep trying to focus on the shot ahead, and I think to be honest, you have to do that.
You know, I've seen so many winners over the years at this golf tournament. They seem to be pretty calm throughout the whole week, and I think that's certainly something that I can learn from and hopefully take out over the next three days.

Q. How would you describe the reaction to the comments you made about Tiger? How would you describe that reaction, and what have you gone through as a result?
IAN POULTER: You know, it was tricky on the Thursday in Dubai to be honest. (Laughter).
You know, I think I've weathered it pretty good. What I said -- we have to go over it again and again. You know, I was basically saying how good Tiger was basically and how achievable I really think it is to get to the No. 2 spot, and again, if you play well over a year period or even a two-year period, you can get there and that's what I'm trying to achieve right now.

Q. What did you go through?
IAN POULTER: It was pretty difficult for a few days. It's like anything else. You know, amongst the guys, it was friendly banter to be honest, but in the newspaper and seeing the comments in there and see what people think and comparing to Tiger; I wasn't comparing anything to Tiger. I wasn't going to say I was going to go win 84 tournaments on the PGA TOUR; I haven't won one yet. To be compared to him was a little unfair. It was tricky but I think we're fine.

Q. Did you feel like you had anything to prove today?
IAN POULTER: No. I just wanted to play good golf to be honest. It's not about proving anybody wrong to be honest. I fully believe in my own ability. You know, that's down to me to go out and just play good golf, and if I can get my mind-set right, then I know I can go out there and achieve big things, but that's down to me to go down and do that.
Sometimes you have a little added extra pressure.

Q. You gave yourself so many birdie chances today, especially on the front nine, did you come out thinking that maybe you can score even better in the next day or two?
IAN POULTER: If I had all them chances again, I would like to think that I could shoot a lower score. So it was pretty much a flawless ball-striking round of golf. I couldn't want to strike it any better. I wouldn't want to putt the ball in any better position on the green in terms of proximity to the hole.
I mean, I'd like to think that I was probably the closest to the hole on a lot of shots out there today in terms of the whole field.
But I just need to keep staying patient and focus on one shot ahead.

Q. Was it easily the best you've played in a major, ball-striking?
IAN POULTER: 2-under par, I don't know if that's a true reflection of how well I played today but it's probably one of the best rounds of golf I've ever played. You know, you don't have to go and shoot 61 for it to be the best round of golf you've ever played. If I sit back home tonight and go through it for ten minutes, I wouldn't want to putt the ball in any different positions from where I did today.

Q. Did the adrenaline rush have anything to do with going long on 17?
IAN POULTER: I had 191 yards to carry the bunker on 17. I'm on the upslope so there for the ball should come out shorter and it was into the wind. I hit a 6-iron on normal conditions 182 yards.
So I have to hit 5-iron; if anything, we was probably thinking 4-iron. So to hit 5-iron and go that far, it can only be down to adrenaline. It was bizarre how it flew 203 yards.

Q. What's your history with the hole-in-ones, when was the last one?
IAN POULTER: The last one was probably in the Italian Open.

Q. Are you going to buy everyone in the clubhouse a drink?
IAN POULTER: I don't know if I can afford that, can I? (Laughter).

Q. How do you view an ace in terms of the range between perfectly-struck shot and fluke?
IAN POULTER: Well, you know, you're on the 16th and you're pitching the ball 25 feet away from the flag, so I mean, you're trying to hit it as close as you possibly can. Obviously, you know, to hole it, you need a little bit of luck, and that's certainly obviously what he got when it lands on the green, it's going to take seven or eight seconds before it finally stops and managed to stop in the bottom of the cup.
Yeah, there's definitely an element of luck in that.

Q. Was the fog delay an issue and what did you do with that extra time?
IAN POULTER: No. If anything, I would say it helped. It gave me more time to go back across to the chipping green. I hit probably ten, 15 minutes worth of extra bunker shots and chips, and then I went back on the range to loosen up again.
You know, 8:22 in the morning is quite an early tee-off time, so it was quite nice for it to be a little late.

Q. We are not seeing that low of scores; what do you attribute that to, conditions out there?
IAN POULTER: The conditions are perfect. You can't want for better golfing conditions. You know, Augusta National is a tough golf course, wherever the pins are located or whether the tees are up ten or 15 yards. You have to hit it in the right spot to give yourself a chance. You don't need to hit too many stray shots out there to get yourself in trouble.
So, you know, it's a credit to the golf course. It's difficult.

Q. Was it pin positions today more than anything?
IAN POULTER: It's tough. You know, it's just that tough of a golf course. You really do have to execute every shot pretty much to perfection.

Q. After a shot like that on a course like this, do you do anything special with the ball or just play with the same ball?
IAN POULTER: I asked my caddie at the back of 18, I said, "Where did you put that ball?"
And he said, "It's the one in your hand."
I said, "No, it's not I just gave it back at 17. I just made bogey if you remember, and I always change after a bogey."
So he dived straight back in his pocket and found it. I'll stick it in the trophy cabinet.

Q. What have you won from aces?
IAN POULTER: I've won a big zero from my hole-in-ones. I've had three in tournament play now.

Q. How do you measure 70 in tournament conditions? How good of a score is that?
IAN POULTER: It's a very good score. The course is playing pretty long. You know, the fairways are soft. You know, it's going to get a little shorter as the week goes on, so it's probably played as long as it's going to play all week. There was even a few tees today which were moved slightly forward I think for that very reason. When the wind is southeast or easterly, the tough holes play into the wind. You have 14, 7, 17; they are tricky golf holes, and they played into the wind today.

Q. Do you think four 70s could win it?

Q. When did the giving away the bogey ball start, and why did it start?
IAN POULTER: Well, it doesn't work properly, does it, so it has to go.

Q. When did that start?
IAN POULTER: Long ago. As soon as I got on TOUR. As soon as they were free. As soon as they were free, I could sack it and get a new one. (Laughter).

Q. Other than 16, what hole do you feel like you navigated the best?
IAN POULTER: Every hole. I missed two greens in regulation; one was with a 5-iron that pitched 203 yards into the wind, which was abnormal for me. The other one was on 12. I hit a soft 9-iron and one of the best spots to miss it is just over the back of the green, as opposed to short, and pretty much the rest of the round of golf was flawless.
So, you know, I can't choose, it was every hole. I played great.

Q. Did you think you stiffed it at 4?
IAN POULTER: I thought I had holed that to be honest. From where it pitched and how far up the back of the green it was, it must have had a look at going in.

Q. Would you do the photo again if you had the opportunity?
IAN POULTER: No. That's a one-off. (Laughter) Staying a one-off.

Q. Has Padraig's Open win helped Europeans that we are no longer writing about the long spell without Europeans winning a major?
IAN POULTER: I think so. It's given everyone a boost of confidence to go out there and play golf in major championships. There's a certain golfer out there that is winning an all lot of them, and that's who we talk about week-in, week-out, and with Paddy winning the Open, and Zach winning last year, anything is achievable.

Q. We asked you a lot about Tiger and what you said, but seriously, I think you guys are the same age, what has it meant to be playing golf in the same era, same generation?
IAN POULTER: He's been a role model to be honest. Obviously, yeah, I'm born probably within ten days of Tiger, and you know, I was still working in the pro shop when he was out playing golf. It just gave me a massive buzz to go out and start practicing harder and harder and harder ten years ago, and it's nice to be playing golf in the same arena that he's playing golf in right now, because you have to test yourself. And everyone is being tested. The golf courses are being set up very difficult, and it's just a great time to be playing golf against him.

Q. When you talk about No. 2 being achievable, was there ever a point in your career where you thought about being No. 1, and is that completely gone, and if so, do you just accept that; do you readjust your goals or what do you do?
IAN POULTER: Well, look how far out in front Tiger Woods is to No. 2. We said it before, it's the equivalent of 2 to 1,000 in the world. Well, quite frankly, there's nobody in the same bracket as him; he is that good.
And while he has got a golf club in his hand, I don't think anybody is going to knock him off that No. 1 spot. You have to be realistic I think with your goals. Even if you're hard on yourself and you want to put yourself to the limit, you do still have to be fairly realistic.

Q. When did that happen, that realization that No. 1 is probably out of reach for a lot of people?
IAN POULTER: As soon as he started winning majors. You know, he's pretty special. I mean, I think everybody has seen it at such an early age. He's been coming for a long time and I think everybody is pretty much taken to that fact.

Q. But Vijay got to No. 1, is that any kind of --
IAN POULTER: Yeah, it is possible, but you have to be realistic, don't you. Tiger went through a spell there where he had some things going on in his life and he wasn't playing great golf for a short spell of time, and he's managed to come through that and he's played incredible golf.
You know, things are achievable if you play well over a year period or a two-year period, and I think No. 2 spot for me is achievable.

Q. As a man with an unusual wardrobe, can you ever remember wearing a green jacket before?
IAN POULTER: No, but I'd quite like to. (Laughter).

Q. Along those lines, does it bother you that in this country you're more known for wardrobe?
IAN POULTER: I quite like it. It's a nice business to be in, designing clothes and turning it into a business. Greg Norman done it a few years ago and he's a very successful businessman from that.
I'm having fun designing and I'm having fun with the team of guys we have back home in England who are doing a great job creating a great brand.

Q. Would it be a challenge on Sunday to match something that would go with that shade of green?
IAN POULTER: Yeah, I might have a shade of green to go with the jacket on Sunday but we'll see whether it comes out; hopefully it does.

Q. Have you talked to Tiger or Phil since the article? Have they had a go at you, or a laugh with you over it?
IAN POULTER: Tiger laughs all the time about it. He keeps calling me No. 2, which is nice. (Laughter) So I guess I just got to keep playing better golf and I might get there.

Q. How about Mickelson?
IAN POULTER: I haven't spoken to Mickelson about it.

Q. How do you think you are perceived here in the States?
IAN POULTER: I don't know, tough question. A fun guy that can play good golf.
I try and have fun on the golf course, and I'd like to think everybody, spectators and people, can see that. I think I've been taken to pretty good.

Q. How would you describe your attitude towards winning? Is that something that consumes you?
IAN POULTER: Winning is everything. That's how you rate yourself at the end of the day. You need to win golf tournaments to feel that you're actually succeeding. If you keep going through your whole career and you don't win, obviously you're not doing good enough. So it means everything to win.
LARRY PUGH: Ian, have another great day tomorrow. Thank you.

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