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May 20, 2009

Ian Poulter


MARK WILLIAMS: Ian, thanks for taking the time to come in and join us at the interview room at the HP Byron Nelson Championship. You've had some success here in the past, T3 a couple years ago and I think top 35 last year. Just tell us what you're looking forward to this year and improving on that performance, I'm guessing.
IAN POULTER: Sure, absolutely. Obviously I'm in good form, taking over some confidence from THE PLAYERS and certainly how I've played since the start of the year. Very much looking forward to getting out on the golf course, which I've got good memories of. As you said, I finished tied 3rd a couple years ago, a tournament which I felt I really should have finished off at the time. I'm pretty excited to get out there in current form to have another good week.
MARK WILLIAMS: I was just looking at your finishes. This is your eighth tournament this year and you've missed one cut and you've finished top 20 every other tournament. How would you assess your year?
IAN POULTER: I would say it's been a nice start to the year. I took some extra time off at the beginning of the year to have laser eye surgery. That's proven to be very successful. Obviously with the extra few weeks off, I feel fresh. I'm ready. As you said, I think this is only my eighth tournament. And I feel good in the middle part of the season, which is unusual, because I've never felt like this at this stage of the year.
There's things to be learned by possibly having a slightly longer break as your off-season and coming out fresh and ready for the big tournaments of the year.

Q. When did you have the surgery?
IAN POULTER: I had it on January the 13th.

Q. Normally how many tournaments would you have played up until now?
IAN POULTER: I would have probably played three more I would think. I kind of missed the start of the European Tour season. I was supposed to go out and play a few tournaments in the desert, and we obviously pushed those back and took an extra few weeks off to recover.

Q. Is it hard for you to keep full-time membership on both Tours? For you guys especially, in addition to the majors, you're playing regular Tour events and stuff like that. How difficult is that?
IAN POULTER: It's very difficult. One of the reasons of it being so difficult is you want to keep your two-year World Ranking divisor of tournaments down as much as you can. If you look at the guys in the World Rankings in the Top 30 in the world, they probably play on average 47, 48 tournaments. For guys that are trying too keep two cards, obviously that doesn't really work as easy; therefore that pushes that number somewhere around 52 to 54 tournaments, which obviously means extra travel. It obviously means you're not quite as fresh as those guys playing a slightly shortened schedule.
So yeah, it is difficult, but I think right now the way I've worked it, it seems to be fitting in -- I can fit it in in good blocks so I don't have to keep crisscrossing the channel so often.

Q. Is that a necessary thing for you in order to stay up top? Is that a necessary thing to come to the United States?
IAN POULTER: No, not at all. I could stay in Europe. I could stay on the PGA TOUR. But it's something that I don't want to do. I want to be able to be a global player. I obviously started my career in Europe and obviously traveled to many different countries in the start of the year before the European schedule gets into sort of mainland Europe. So I've wanted to keep that thing going. I want to play global.
Obviously with the Ian Poulter Design clothing line, obviously I sell in 55 different countries, so I want to be as global as I possibly can but still make sure that I'm playing fresh every single time I play.

Q. Can I just ask you about when you were growing up, what kind of golf did you play, junior golf, and is there any foundation you were in or anything like that?
IAN POULTER: To be honest, I was a member at a golf club. I played a monthly medal, and that was about as good as I got. I think I played one Letchworth Open. Apart from that I went and worked in a pro shop and I didn't play any amateur tournaments from the age of 16 to 18 or 19. I was stranded in the shop, shall we say.
MARK WILLIAMS: While you were in the shop were you able to play?
IAN POULTER: I played, but while I was in that two-year period I didn't play at all. I didn't play medal, I didn't play anything, because at the time the club pro wanted to charge me for every round of golf I played and every medal I played. So when you're at £100 a week and you've got to play £20 to go and play golf, you know what, I got as many range balls as I possibly can because they're free, so that's what I did.

Q. What's been your experience out here at the Four Seasons, the Nelsons that you've played in the past?
IAN POULTER: Very pleasant ones. It's a great hotel, it's a great golf course. I've had a bit of success on the golf course. The fans are good. It's always a good gallery to play in front of, and I enjoy coming here.

Q. On a sad note today, within the PGA TOUR family, Phil Mickelson's wife Amy has been diagnosed with breast cancer. He's not going to play this tournament or next week at Colonial. Just your thoughts about him and his family right now.
IAN POULTER: I wasn't aware of that. I was aware five minutes ago that he withdrew for personal reasons, so that's a big shock. Obviously I wish them the best of luck and hope Amy has a full recovery. But that's very, very sad, and I hope they're doing good.

Q. If you didn't play for two years from 16 to 18, at what age did you realize that you could be pretty good at this game?
IAN POULTER: A couple years ago (laughter).
Um, I turned assistant pro at 19, and I had literally just practiced for two years, and as soon as I turned assistant pro I won my first tournament. I guess from that point I realized that earning £120 a week, 200 bucks a week in a shop at that time, and you go and win £1,500, $2,500 for playing golf for three days was kind of nice. So I realized at that time that the hard work hitting balls on the range was worthwhile, and I needed to go and hit some more.
So I guess it was a progression from that stage onwards, really. I just felt as if -- obviously being a massive golf fan and watching as much golf as I did on the TV, I thought, well, that's what I want to do. That's what I want to become. I want to become a Tour professional. I was naïve to the rest of it, to be honest.

Q. Did you ever see the movie "Karate Kid," the wax on, wax off?

Q. It almost seems like that's what you had to do, just the repetition of range balls and stuff like that?
IAN POULTER: Yeah, there was no Walker Cup, there was none of the Rose Bowl or all those tournaments which I probably couldn't even tell you half of now anyway. Yeah, it was just practice. I've got some video footage of me hitting balls when I was 18, 19. It's not that pretty, but I managed to get it done. I guess with doing my PGA exams for three or four years, it kind of taught me how to swing a golf club and how to play golf.

Q. Have you been out on the course, because they've changed from the rye to the Bermuda since it's later. I didn't know if it plays any different.
IAN POULTER: What, from last year? They've changed from last year?

Q. Well, it's later in the year, so --
IAN POULTER: I can tell you tonight when I've played. I haven't played this week yet.

Q. The changes in the course from the previous year to last year, how did you like that?
IAN POULTER: I thought the course obviously with all the changes last year, I thought it looked very good. I thought -- obviously it was new to play a course which had just been rebuilt and redesigned. It was obviously going to take a little while to settle in. But I thought the changes were good. I believe from what my caddie has told me, the course is looking fantastic. I can't wait to get out there at 1:30.

Q. You had a terrific Ryder Cup this past year. Do you think that momentum has carried over into this season and that's why you've had so many good finishes this year?
IAN POULTER: I think I've learned a lot from that. I think I learned a lot from last year's British Open and obviously moving that into the Ryder Cup. You learn a lot about yourself in that environment, I guess. I didn't play that great after Ryder Cup. I guess I poured everything I had on the golf course in those few days, and it took a nice winter to come back fresh, and this year is the result of having a bit of confidence from last year and a bit of time off to recover and come out knowing you can play well most of the time.

Q. Do you and Justin Rose have a wager to see who wins over here first?

Q. Not even a friendly bet?
IAN POULTER: Not really. But I think we're both trying pretty hard to win. There's nothing laid down. He's been here a couple seasons more than I have. We're both passionate about trying to win over here as soon as we possibly can. It's certainly a step up to be able to win over here, for sure.
MARK WILLIAMS: Just getting back to the avenue that you took to get out here through the shop, I know that a couple of Australians have done the same thing, Rod Pampling and Peter Lonard. Can you think of any others from the UK that have gone through the same avenue that you took?
IAN POULTER: I think Simon Khan, he played regional golf when I was playing regional golf, from the age of 19 to about the age of 23. Whether he actually worked in a shop or was attached to a shop, I'm not sure whether he worked or whether he was just an attached player in the system.
MARK WILLIAMS: Any other Europeans on the PGA TOUR?
IAN POULTER: No, no other Europeans that are playing on the PGA TOUR, no. There's not many.

Q. Have you been to all the Dallas fashion centers, the marketplace?
IAN POULTER: I've got enough clothes. I don't need to be visiting any fashion places, trust me. I've been too busy. I'm too busy. I got in last night at 3:00 o'clock in the afternoon, I hit a few balls and went to my room and watched the basketball.
MARK WILLIAMS: We talked about your season with all the Top-20 finishes so far this year, and it intrigued me as I was looking through your statistics that your highest ranking in all the statistics is 14th in sand saves, and I think you're in the teens in money leaders and official World Ranking but all the others are outside the 20s. Is that a testament to your consistency this year do you think?
IAN POULTER: I guess so. It's just very consistent. There is no one area -- scrambling, I think, is an area which I think I'm first in. I was working pretty hard in the off-season on my short game, and that's an area where I do get aggressive on the golf course when I feel I'm playing well. So I do miss quite a few greens. But if my short game is in shape, I don't mind missing greens because I know I'm going to up-and-down it or potentially chip in. That's probably one area which has been very good this year.
MARK WILLIAMS: Ian, we appreciate you coming in. Have a good week this week.

End of FastScripts

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