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May 8, 2009

Ian Poulter


MARK WILLIAMS: Ian Poulter, thank you for joining us in the interview room at THE PLAYERS Championship. A fine 68 today to match your 68 yesterday. Talk about the day and some comments on your round and what you're looking forward to tomorrow.
IAN POULTER: Well, I think it was key to try and take advantage of the par-5s today and certainly what I didn't do yesterday, and if I could do that playing the way I've been playing and taking advantage of a couple of the 4s then I can shoot a good score, and that's what I did. I birdied three of them and made a great par on the second hole.
MARK WILLIAMS: Two bogeys in 36 holes, that's got to be something you're very happy about.
IAN POULTER: Yeah, it's been solid the last few weeks and it's been nice to bring that into The PLAYERS and play well.

Q. You play so well here every year. What is it about the course? Does it just fit your eye?
IAN POULTER: I enjoy the golf course. I enjoy the test. I enjoy some of the tee shots which capture your attention. You have to step up and hit a decent tee shot at certain times, you know, I enjoy playing under pressure.

Q. The conditions, the wind has been pretty tame all week, and the course is in pretty good shape and they cut the rough down. If the weather doesn't work against you guys, you guys are going to shoot low scores, aren't you?
IAN POULTER: The greens are perfect. They obviously took a little bit of rain the other night, and as you said, the rough is down. So you can score on this golf course. The par-5s are reachable, and there's a few short par-4s which you should take advantage of. So if we're going to get conditions like we have over the last couple of days where the weather is pure, then you are going to see some good scoring.

Q. How much would it mean to you to win in the U.S. and to win this big event?
IAN POULTER: It would be a step forward. It would mean everything. It would mean a couple years of hard work. It would mean carrying over from the Ryder Cup. The way I played there, the way I played at the Open, it would mean a lot. It would mean stepping up another level.

Q. Can I just ask you, after the Ryder Cup are you kind of disappointed that you haven't really -- won five times or -- I don't want to say --
IAN POULTER: Five times might be a bit excessive. Tiger only wins 50 percent (laughter).

Q. Are you in any way disappointed that --
IAN POULTER: I think it's been an interesting time since the Ryder Cup. I haven't played many tournaments after the Ryder Cup until now. You know, I had a bit of time off for Christmas. I had extra time off with the eye surgery, and that seems working very, very well.
Am I surprised? Yeah, maybe. But I've got off to a great start this year, and I felt that I've left a lot of shots on the golf course over the last few tournaments, and if I can make a lot of pars where I've made a couple silly bogeys, then I'm still going to make those birdies that I have been and I'm going to put myself in position.

Q. Outside of Bay Hill this has been about the best stretch you've had here in the States, isn't it?
IAN POULTER: For sure.

Q. Just momentum from last year carrying over? You seem like you've kind of cranked it up a notch over here where it looks like you're kind of knocking on the door in the States where you haven't always produced your best results.
IAN POULTER: Yeah, I feel comfortable. It's been a different year in terms of the family has been here a lot more than they have been in the past. So looking at that, you know, I'm very happy at home. We've got a new arrival, and she's settling in great, and I can enjoy myself out on the golf course and get home to the family straight afterwards. It's been nice.
I've only played seven tournaments, I think, since the start of the year, as well, so I'm fresh and I'm ready.

Q. Is there anything specifically that you're doing better, any are of your game that you're stepping up to this level?
IAN POULTER: Probably thinking better with my caddie. You know, I make a couple of rash decisions sometimes, and they obviously backfire. But I'm definitely thinking about my golf game and how I can score better on the golf course. You know, yesterday was a great round of golf, but I was frustrated that I didn't birdie the par-5s. I put a lot of effort into trying to play the par-5s well today; I did, apart from the second. Managed to get out of that with a par. And I still played well.
I think if you play golf courses properly, then you can -- with good play you can score very well.

Q. Has Paul Casey's victory, has that provided an added spur toward him getting a break on the PGA TOUR?
IAN POULTER: I think with how strong the European Tour golf is and the Europeans that play over here a lot, it's no surprise to me to see guys like Paul Casey winning golf tournaments. He come close at the match play. It wasn't going to be long before he knocked one off.
Luke finishing second a few weeks ago, you know, he's won here before. I think European golf is strong.

Q. Is this a golf course that can easily tempt you into making a rash decision?
IAN POULTER: Absolutely. There's going to be pin positions out there which have been there the last couple days, but you're going to see more of them over the weekend, which are going to tempt you into a risk and reward shot. And I think you're just going to have to evaluate which ones you want to go at and play sensible, because you can get bitten very hard out there if you don't hit the right shot at the right time.

Q. Secondly, Nick has been saying on more than one occasion that you seem to thrive on the big stage. Do you agree with that, whether it's the Ryder Cup or the Open?
IAN POULTER: Probably. I feel this is probably the fifth major. It's a big tournament. There's great crowds, and it's set up very, very tough. I enjoy playing on the big stage.

Q. Backtracking on the fact -- I take it you had laser surgery?
IAN POULTER: Yes, I did.

Q. When was that? When did you have that done?
IAN POULTER: I had it done January the 13th.

Q. Over here?

Q. Best stretch of golf here certainly that you've had. I'm just wondering, was there a moment where something clicked over here, or is it just building up over time? Was there anything you specifically can pinpoint?
IAN POULTER: I felt it's been coming, but I've been making too many mistakes on the golf course, and having a bit more time off, having time to practice more, having a bit more time to get prepared to play, hopefully I've done enough thinking and enough practicing where I'm not going to make as many mistakes as I have made. In the past they've been very silly bogeys, silly double bogeys, going at a couple silly pins. If you can think yourself around some of these difficult golf courses, then you can perform. That's how I've played well in some of the big tournaments.

Q. How well do you know Alex, and have you formed any particular opinion about his game?
IAN POULTER: I know him pretty good. Obviously back home on the European Tour, he's played there a number of years. I'm very well aware of Alex and I know his golf game. He's in very good form. He basely missed the green yesterday and gone out today and played very, very well, so he's in good form.

Q. Not to be disrespectful to the guys at the top of the leaderboard, but is it for a guy like you to not see Woods and Mickelson, Cabrera is there, obviously, but is it easier or a bit more relaxing that you don't see these big names at the top of the board right now?
IAN POULTER: I think if you go about your job properly, look at the board when you need to look at the board, whether Tiger is on the board or Camilo or Phil or whoever, when you're playing good golf, you just need to keep making birdies.
If guys are going to come from behind and try and make a challenge, then that's what they have to do. I'm not going to really be focusing on who's behind me and who could potentially come up behind me. I just want to keep doing what I'm doing and keep making birdies.

Q. The eye surgery, what made you undergo it? What was the procedure, and what has been the benefit?
IAN POULTER: Poor vision at night, I think, and also deteriorating in light. It wasn't easy to focus and read some of the greens. First thing in the morning if it was very overcast, and also late in the day, I didn't find it that easy to pick out my spots on the greens.
I never corrected astigmatism which I've had, and I've been using contact lenses for probably nine years. I went in to see a surgeon six years ago. He wasn't comfortable doing the procedure because my prescription was so weak, and he felt that I could get a very good vision with wearing contact lenses, so we tried that. I just felt it was time to go in and see if we -- technology has changed in the last six years, and I could correct the astigmatism, and I could also correct my prescription, and it's been very successful.

Q. What kind of number do you think is going to win this thing after the first two days, assuming it's going to be like this?
IAN POULTER: 16, 17. I think that would be a good number. Guys are going to shoot still some good scores tomorrow, and then with the weather forecast that I've seen, it's perfect. There's probably only five, six, seven mile-an-hour winds, so I'd expect you'd have to go out and shoot a couple under par on Sunday.

Q. What was the ruling you asked for on the 2nd?
IAN POULTER: It was just whether I could -- where I could stand with relation to where the branches were. I didn't want to feel as if I was having to stand in and press against the branches, so I just had to get a ruling and just ask where I can stand, and I didn't want to cause any problem.
MARK WILLIAMS: We'll just quickly go over your card.
IAN POULTER: Birdied 4, hit sand iron to 10 feet.
Bogey at 6, I hit 5-wood in the right trees, clipped a branch playing my second shot, hit a low wedge on to about 25 feet and nearly holed that for par.
9 was a lob wedge from about 65 yards.
11, par-5, hit 5-wood to about 35 feet, two-putted that for birdie.
16, hit 5-wood again to about 45 feet just off the fringe of the green, chipped to a couple of feet.
18 was a 3-wood, 8-iron to about seven feet.

Q. I'm wondering, with all the pressure and scrutiny you were under at the Ryder Cup being somewhat of a controversial pick and then validating that by going 4 & 1, whether that would be the most pressure that a guy could face or whether a tournament like this would be equal, different, the same?
IAN POULTER: I don't think I could probably play under as much pressure, to be honest with you. Everything from now on in, hopefully I can enjoy to play golf.
MARK WILLIAMS: Appreciate you coming in, and good luck on the weekend.

End of FastScripts

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