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July 30, 2008

Ian Poulter


RODDY WILLIAMS: Ian, thanks very much for coming and joining us, a little bit earlier than scheduled and having been called off the course because of a downpour out there. First start us off with your thoughts ahead of this week and particularly on the back of such a fine performance at Royal Birkdale.
IAN POULTER: Thank you. Yeah, excited to be here, at a golf course that I like, a golf course I've played for a good number of years now. You know, certainly after the Open it's given me a lot of confidence to go into these two weeks and make a decent push, push to get in the Ryder Cup side. That was obviously a nice week to have at the right time for a number of reasons, not just on the Ryder Cup list, but Order of Merit back in Europe, Order of Merit on the PGA TOUR, and kick-start what was an okay season into hopefully being a great year and finishing the year off strong and being in my best position in the World Rankings come December.
RODDY WILLIAMS: You look as if you actually loved it coming down the stretch there at the Open in the last round. What did it feel like?
IAN POULTER: Great buzz. It was nice to be -- I was in contention pretty much going into Sunday of Augusta and got off to a horrendous start. But to be in contention with nine holes to play was just a great, great adrenaline rush, to be honest.
You know, making a couple of birdies early into the back nine was -- it was just great. You know, it was a nice position to be in. To see yourself going up the leaderboard as opposed to going down was a nice change from what it has been during this year.
RODDY WILLIAMS: And now this week, fresh challenge ahead, equally a very big week for you.
IAN POULTER: Yeah, two big weeks, I think. Big tournament, big World Ranking points, big Order of Merit points, and on a good golf course which I've played a lot. I'm very much looking forward to it. I feel fresh. I had a nice week off last week, time to reflect on a good Open and time to come out strong and play good golf over the next two weeks.

Q. As you took time to reflect, what did you do at Birkdale that impressed you so much?
IAN POULTER: I think just enjoying the week a lot more than what I have done previously, not put too much pressure on myself during the week. And what I mean by that is enjoy the challenge, stay fresh, don't push too hard, and that's probably what I have done wrong in the past. You know, I've been pressing too hard in major golf tournaments. I've been wanting to perform very, very well in these tournaments, you know, to try and make a push not only to win golf tournaments, but to move up in the rankings.
I think sometimes it's all about just getting in position and trying to work your way into a golf tournament and then find yourself in the situation like I did with nine holes to play, you know, moving up the leaderboard. And that was just through playing smart golf, clever golf, hitting the right side of pins, not taking silly shots on, and just slowly working your way into a big golf tournament. And I think that I can take a lot of experience out of that, certainly going forward into big tournaments that I'm going to play.
You see the world's best players do that; they just find themselves getting themselves into position. They don't have to go out and lead after day one and day two. They're around the number come Sunday afternoon. And that's what I felt I did. I just stayed patient, took a few opportunities when I could and got myself in position with nine holes to play.

Q. I don't recall exactly where you started the last day --
IAN POULTER: Six back. Six back of Greg.

Q. You were 8 or 10-over through 8 and it all turned for you on 9. How is it that you didn't lose patience through 8, if you will?
IAN POULTER: Well, looking -- obviously not a great start, bogeying two of the first three holes and seeing myself slide down a little bit, but I didn't really hit any bad real shots in those first few holes. I stabilized myself through the next few holes and I started to hit some really good golf shots, and I hit a lot of greens in regulation that day.
I felt that I played so solid over the first three days, and if I could keep doing that, you know, Sunday in a major there's -- it's very difficult for guys to be going out there and moving forward and moving through the leaderboard. Greg was obviously six clear of myself and Paddy was in a good position. There was kind of a break in the leaderboard there. They were ahead of everyone else. I felt if I could make a couple of birdies before the nine back or early in the back nine, guys are going to find it tough, and I just felt like it was so difficult that week, that was a good day to be able to shoot level par or possibly 1- or 2-under par, and you just flew through the field.
Was I surprised at some of the scores? Yeah, maybe, but it was seriously tough. You just couldn't get distracted from 100 percent concentration on any shot.

Q. A follow-up question on Birkdale, just curious whether you learnt anything about yourself as a golfer which perhaps you didn't know before.
IAN POULTER: I mean, I'm a confident person anyway and I've always believed in my own ability and I've always said to everybody that I believe I've got the game to win a major. I've always known that deep down inside. But it hasn't ever come out, I guess. So I guess it's kind of nice to be able for it to almost come out, and that's nice.
I kind of try to back up my words in some way with letting it happen on the golf course, and I guess when you play like that and when you put yourself into position and when you hole the putts at the right time and have a chance to win, again I guess that kind of reiterates what I have been saying in the past, and that's kind of refreshing to know that I can let it come out on the golf course. It's not all just words, and that's personally very satisfying.

Q. Your comments about controlling your emotions and not trying to win a golf tournament on the first day, it's quite similar to what Padraig said to me two days ago about how he succeeded. Is this mental approach becoming the latest attempt to find success in golf for elite players?
IAN POULTER: I've been aware of it for a while. When you look at how people have gone about winning their majors and how successful the best players in the world are, you know, they don't light it up on Thursday and Friday. But it's very, very, very difficult to not press when you're in these big golf tournaments.
You want to try so hard; they mean so much to you that you do try too hard sometimes. And it just really -- to be able to go and play golf the way you can go and play but not take -- I'm not saying not take it seriously, but just ease your way into a golf tournament and then you find it works, it kind of reassures you that that is the way to go into these golf tournaments and the mindset you need to do. You can't win on Thursday, Friday or Saturday. You just have to be in position come Sunday.

Q. As a young player was maybe the fact that you guys were better than everybody else the reason that you thought, well, I'll go to this golf tournament and I'll just take control the first day?
IAN POULTER: I certainly wasn't better than everybody else when I was young. I know at the age of 19 I was not better than everybody.
I've had to change my game since I've first come on TOUR. I was all or nothing, and that kind of is a bit hit or miss, and that certainly doesn't work in a major. Just to be steady, to be in control of your golf game for four days is -- it takes a lot of time to learn that.

Q. Just going back to the previous points about you knew deep down that you can win a major, in that context that put you on the 18th, was that like a final confirmation of that thought, that you could win a major?
IAN POULTER: Yeah, being five holes in front of Padraig at the time and knowing the finish -- I know there's two par-5s, and knowing that if I could hole that putt -- I didn't hit a great second shot from the position I was in, but to walk on the green, assessing the chip shot, to give myself a 15-footer, to know I've got potentially a 15-footer to win the Open was the position I put myself in. And then to hole the putt was very rewarding, to accept that and to take that forward and hole that putt at the time for me, posting a lead which nobody else at the time was going to look like beating apart from possibly Padraig, yeah, that was very, very satisfying.

Q. Going forward, it's like a final confirmation, is it?
IAN POULTER: Yeah, the greatest feeling to be able to do that and to put yourself into position and then to hole it and to think, well, it's -- yeah, it's very, very, very satisfying, very rewarding, and gives me a lot of hope for the tournaments going forward. It's a big steppingstone.

Q. Speaking of steps, only when I got home did I see photos of the putting green at Birkdale, your footprints. Can you tell us how that came about?
IAN POULTER: I've been playing well enough -- I've told everybody I've been playing well enough for a good number of months and I haven't been holing any fair share of putts and I certainly haven't been holing my fair share of 20-footers. So I had a 20-footer, a slight left-to-righter which has been one that's possibly been getting away, not the easiest putt for a right-handed golfer, a little left to right, and I found myself practicing for six hours, the same putt, to find the pace, to find the putter, to find the feel to take on the golf course. As you see on most putting greens, if guys work hard on the putting green, they're looking not to hole a six-footer or a 20-footer, you will leave a couple of wear marks in the putting green. It just so happens that they were quite large and they were very obvious for the whole seven days.

Q. You stood there for six hours?

Q. Your caddie retrieved the putts?

Q. Did you pay him extra for that?
IAN POULTER: No. Part and parcel of working.

Q. Did the R & A ever say anything to you about it?
IAN POULTER: Yes. They were not very happy.

Q. Grass was smooth, discolored?
IAN POULTER: You wouldn't have wanted to putt through it, put it that way. It would have bobbled off-line. But it would have been nice to cut them out and taken the little piece back home and laid it in the garden if we had won, but unfortunately we didn't (laughter).

Q. Had you done that before?
IAN POULTER: Yeah, I've done it a number of times. When you're working on something -- I mean, not for six hours, that's quite excessive. But if you stand in the same spot for an hour you will get two pretty good footprint wear marks on the green. We wear spikes or we wear soft spikes, and if you stand on a soft green like they were soft early in the week, then you're going to get some wear marks. That's part and parcel. It's a small putting green, and that's unfortunate that obviously it was that visible, but it nearly worked, didn't it?

Q. What was your reply to the R & A?
IAN POULTER: I'm terribly sorry. I'll try to move around the putting green next time.

Q. Were you aware of how long you were out there?
IAN POULTER: Yeah, I was well aware of how sore my back was getting and my legs were getting and how tired I was. But it worked well. Hey, I'm not going to look back and think, oh, I should have only putted for an hour. It was work well done, and sometimes you have to be on the range longer than what you think, and that was one of those days.

Q. And how long was the putt at the last?
IAN POULTER: It was about that, 18 feet (smiling). That was a little right to left where the other one was left to right. It was funny because on the 16th green I left myself a cup left putt, which was exactly the putt that I had practiced for six hours on that Monday, and I just felt fine. I just felt comfortable, and it dropped in.

Q. That's the one that fell in on the last turn?
IAN POULTER: Yeah, it fell in.

Q. That's your story and you're sticking to it?
IAN POULTER: I'm sticking to that one, yeah.

Q. Does this golf tournament feel different without Tiger being here, a guy who's won this tournament six times and has done real well at this course?
IAN POULTER: I think any tournament without Tiger is obviously a slightly weaker field. Does it feel any different to me? No. I've still got the same amount of people to beat, whether he's in the side or whether he's not, whether he's in the tournament or whether he's not in the tournament.
No, I don't think it changes anything on my perspective. I'm still going to go out there and try and win whether he's in the tournament or he's not in the golf tournament. Yeah, it's slightly weaker because the world's No. 1 is not here to play golf. But it won't change anything.

Q. Do you like your chances after a good showing at the British Open?
IAN POULTER: Yeah, I'm feeling very comfortable right now, obviously. It was a big week, and I'm looking forward to the next two weeks.

Q. If you could just look ahead to next week, is the feelings any different going to a PGA where you have some decent memories?
IAN POULTER: Very nice. You know, it was one of the most memorable weeks I've ever had, certainly on that golf course, and it will be nice to go back to a golf course that I know, that I've played well on, and kind of refresh and rekindle your mind with those good thoughts. That certainly is a golf course that I've got a lot of good memories around. I remember a lot of good golf shots and I remember the golf course very well.
I'm really looking forward to the next two weeks to make a big push.

Q. There's probably no answer to this, but a European has not won the PGA since 1930, the longest of any of the majors. Any thoughts or attempt at an explanation on that one?
IAN POULTER: No, not really.

Q. Can you try and make one up?
IAN POULTER: I'll try and make one up next Sunday night if I hold the trophy (laughter).

Q. Continuing on next week, the golf course has been changed some since the Ryder Cup. Will that not have any effect on you guys at all?
IAN POULTER: I haven't seen the changes yet, so I can't comment on that. But obviously the layout will be pretty much the same. Obviously some tees have been lengthened and some bunkers have been repositioned, and I'll have a look at that when I get there early in the week.
But it's a good golf course. I've got good memories around it.

Q. Did you throw your shoes at the fans that night, Sunday night?
IAN POULTER: Yeah, I did, yeah.

Q. Maybe they'll come back. Do you think?
IAN POULTER: I've got some new ones. We'll be fine.

Q. Down to your last 500 pairs?
IAN POULTER: Yeah, I've got a couple left.

Q. Outside of the putt that you talked about at 16 that was very like the one that you practiced on Monday, how many putts do you think that you felt like what happened on Monday, that practice time, that you felt comfortable over because of that practice time during the tournament?
IAN POULTER: I felt my pace was better all week because of that. That's something that I've struggled with over a number of months, you know, leaving putts six inches short, hitting putts four or five feet by. My pace putting was pretty good all week, and that -- not only with playing well for the week, I think that's why I put myself in that position come Sunday.
It just goes to show, if you can get the pace of the greens and you feel comfortable and you don't have to work too hard in your brain to be holing putts, then it's amazing what you can do and where you can position yourself in the golf tournament, just let it happen.

Q. Is this a regime that you will use more often, do you think?
IAN POULTER: Yes, absolutely. It's an area of my game which possibly hasn't been as good as what it should be. My statistics aren't as good as what they have been in the past, and perhaps I haven't been spending as much time on the putting green as I've needed to. It's an area which I will definitely spend more time in trying to get the pace of the greens for each week. They vary from week to week, and occasionally when you go from 14 on the stimp down to 10 on the Stimpmeter and you haven't spent enough time on the putting green, then obviously your pace is going to change dramatically. I think that's probably what I've learnt, to try to get the pace of the greens earlier in the week.

Q. It might be too early to say this, but is it odd to think at this point in your career you might have finally found the key to reaching your potential?
IAN POULTER: Again, well, I think -- I'm 32, and I think the age of -- the average age of major winners is about 32 I think it is, so it's kind of a nice time to be feeling quite comfortable and to put a performance in and hopefully finding something which works. The mental process of being out there and playing seemed to work very well in the Open, and hopefully I can take that forward into majors coming up, and hopefully we can kick on in the big tournaments from now on.

Q. I wonder if you could talk about the Ryder Cup for a minute. You're just outside the standings on either side, as is Sergio, as is Justin, I believe --
IAN POULTER: Justin is in the side right now.

Q. And Luke is a bit of a question mark. In your mind, you talk about these next two weeks and forward, how do you look at the importance of it? And can you allow yourself to be just outside and rely on a pick from Nick, given your form at the British or the fact that you've only got one cap, or how do you look at that?
IAN POULTER: I mean, I've looked at all the scenarios last week to see where it moved me. It put me in a great position. It moved me from fairly well down that list to right in contention. I'm £25,000 out of the Order of Merit position. I've been into fifth place. I'm 20 World Ranking points out of making the side automatically off of the world list. I know all the different permutations.
Have I done enough to get a pick? That's not for me to say. All I know is that the next two weeks are really important to play good golf. These next two weeks means not only do I earn points on our Order of Merit list, I also earn points on the world list, and that can help me on both sides.
My schedule after the next two weeks will probably be FedExCup, which obviously doesn't count on the European Tour Order of Merit list. So these next two weeks are very important to play good golf and move up both lists. And then I'm going to have to take a rain check after the U.S. PGA and see where we stand on both lists there to try and make the side.
There's so many different permutations at the minute, obviously not just for me but for Nick, to see his players play well in the next few weeks. I've got five tournaments left to make a stand to try and make the side automatically, and that's what I want to do. I don't want to rely on a pick. I don't want to put any pressure on Nick. Nick is going to have enough pressure as it is without me telephoning in before a pick.

Q. Your plan is to stay on this side for the FedEx stuff early?
IAN POULTER: At the minute, yes. At the minute, yes, but things might change. We don't know. There's two big weeks coming up which I can then obviously review after Sunday of the U.S. PGA and see where we stand then.

Q. You mentioned £25,000 behind. Isn't the points based in Euros?
IAN POULTER: Okay, €35,000 or $50,000.

Q. You still compute things in your mind as pounds?
IAN POULTER: Yeah, pounds sterling, I can do it either way, $50,000 or €35,000.

Q. Either way we're getting killed. I was just curious what your first recollection was of Faldo. How old were you?
IAN POULTER: I was 15 working in a pro shop when he come to open the pro shop at the golf course where I was working at at the time as a part-time worker, and he was world No. 1 at the time. Yeah, he was someone that grew up 15 minutes from where I lived, so yeah, he was certainly someone that I looked up to and certainly was a great role model.
I think he'll be a great captain. He will do a very good job.

Q. Name of the club where you were working?
IAN POULTER: That was at the time Jack O'Lakes in Hitchin.

Q. Did he ring you up after the Open?
IAN POULTER: I sent him a text message and then he rung me straight afterwards.

Q. Text message saying?
IAN POULTER: Just sent a message (laughter). Yeah, he rung me up and congratulated me and said well played. I spoke to him earlier in the week obviously, and he said to me, come on and make a decent push and play well over the next few weeks. Obviously I was at the dinner where he obviously told Paddy to pull his finger out, and he obviously did a good job of that, and I didn't do too bad a job of moving up, as well.

Q. I know you've got these two weeks, but it sounds like you're open to having to make changes to your schedule if it's going to make a difference.
IAN POULTER: I want to make the side, so if I have to, then I will certainly look at what needs to be done to try and make the side. I'd like to stay in one place so I don't have to be channel hopping, which is not going to be the best for jet lag. So if I can play well over the next two weeks then certainly I won't have to be flying back home and back for Ryder Cup. I can stay on this side of the pond and feel fresh and do the right practice and be fresh to be as good as I possibly can for the Ryder Cup.
But I guess at times you have to look at it and do what you need to do to make the side sometimes. But that's why these two weeks are very, very, very important, to play well and be in the side without having to go back home.
RODDY WILLIAMS: Ian, thanks very much for your time. Good luck this week.

End of FastScripts

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