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January 19, 2010

Ian Poulter


SCOTT CROCKETT: Ian, many thanks, as always, for joining us. Welcome do the Abu Dhabi Championship and happy new year to you. Just give us an indication of what you've been doing over last couple of months since we last saw you on the course.
IAN POULTER: Freezing in Orlando is what I've been doing. Not quite as cold as the U.K., but I've just been resting to be honest.
I didn't hit a golf ball for three weeks which was lovely, put the clubs down, and spent a lot of time with the kids. Got a new puppy. What else have I been doing? Not really a lot else to be honest with you, apart from resting and trying to get a little bit fitter. And yeah, as I said, the start of the practise over the last couple of weeks was a bit fresh in Orlando, so probably haven't done as much as I really wanted to get done, but I'm still hitting fine and looking forward to these two weeks in the desert.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Presumably the reason was to recharge the batteries; do you feel you've achieved that?
IAN POULTER: Yeah, 100 per cent. I finished the year pretty good. Seven weeks on bounce, which I've never -- well I have done it in the past but that was probably back in 2000, 2001, but seven weeks with 32,000 miles I think of flying was an awful lot to do. But you know, I was always going to take that five-week break after that. So it was good to recharge the batteries and put the clubs down.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Your thoughts on this week, Ian, you've played here before, and two Top-10s; you're comfortable here.
IAN POULTER: Yeah, I like the golf course from what I can remember. I'm looking forward to getting out there.
Obviously there is going to be a difference, new wedges in the bag with the rules change, so that will be different. I've been practising this morning, and yeah, there's definitely a little bit of a difference. The ball is definitely releasing out in chip shots.
I haven't been on the course yet. I'll wait to get on the golf course tomorrow to have a good look at it. But I'm looking forward to getting out there. I think it will definitely lends itself to people who have got some imagination with the short game and some feel. I'm looking forward to getting going really.

Q. Were you happy with what you did in that seven weeks overall, and what are your goals for the short-term this year? What are your thoughts?
IAN POULTER: Yeah, I think that seven weeks worked out very well. Obviously getting a win early in that seven weeks was great. And finishing -- having a few Top-10s, as well. So I did exactly what I needed to do. Great to win. Great to put some Ryder Cup points on the board and really have a nice seven weeks so I can relax over Christmas.
Goals for this year: I think obviously I want to make The Ryder Cup side. I feel that I should be contending in those majors, which is a big factor this year. I'll be working hard to be prepared for each major so I can come out as strong as I possibly can.

Q. A number of other golfers are making a return to Abu Dhabi, and we are seeing a lot of players making their debuts here, even from the PGA TOUR, how is that an indication of how this region is growing in golf?
IAN POULTER: Sure, it's growing. Obviously the season-end tournament was in Dubai a few months ago, and we are getting more and more tournaments over here. So you are getting more top players coming over to play golf, and with that you'll see how strong the Emirates is with people wanting to come over and play golf.
So yeah, it's growing, the golf courses are growing, and the place is growing, and that's why people are coming over to play golf.
It is a great place to play golf. The weather is great and people enjoy coming here. We get looked after very, very well and we enjoy coming here to play golf.

Q. You've had the odd altercation with Monty over the years; are you two sort of good pals now, or had a heart-to-heart?
IAN POULTER: I think we are on decent terms to be honest with you. Yeah, I mean, it's always been in the paper, but face-to-face I get on great with Monty. I really think that whatever there is there has been blown out of proportion in the papers. I do get on very well with him and I believe he gets on very well with me.
So I don't understand why always there has been an issue, because it's only written in the newspaper, you can take from that whatever you want and whoever wants to make a feel of whatever they do in the paper, that's up to them. But face-to-face we are great. I get on great with Colin and I think he gets on great with me.

Q. I think there was a photographer incident --
IAN POULTER: I don't really remember to be honest.

Q. Looking at your schedule, how much do you plan to spend in Europe?
IAN POULTER: I probably plan to play the same amount of tournaments as I played last year. I think -- did I play -- I can't even remember I played in Europe last year, 13 or 14 I would think, and I would think it would be very, very similar this year.
I have set out a schedule for this year. It may change depending on how the start of the year goes. So I think I will play a similar schedule, 13 or 14.

Q. You were talking about the new grooves, how do you think Abu Dhabi will serve as a barometer?
IAN POULTER: Hard question to answer when I haven't been on the golf course, I haven't seen how thick the rough is and nobody has actually played a week with those new grooves.
So I can only tell you from what I've practised over the last few weeks; I feel that, yeah, there's definitely a significant change. The spin is down. You will see a difference when guys miss the greens. I don't see there being a problem from a hundred yards and in; if you're coming off the fairway, you can still put enough spin on the ball to get at any pin, but if you miss the greens in the wrong places, you're going to find it hard to get up-and-down.
You're going to have to rely on your putting from kind of inside 20 feet because sometimes that's the kind of distance you're probably going to leave yourself if you do short-side yourself.
From what I've spoke to of the guys that have played the golf course, the rough isn't too thick, so you know, I would still think there's going to be good scoring.
SCOTT CROCKETT: With the premium on accuracy all around, not just here, but the whole season, you'll have to be avoiding rough whenever possible one would think.
IAN POULTER: Absolutely. The schedule I play, every tournament I play, the greens are very firm. So with that in mind, yeah, there's definitely going to be a premium on putting the ball in the fairway. And you're definitely going to need to be striking your irons very, very well, and you're going to have to sometimes think, do I need to be going at that pin position.
If it's tight right or left side, surely if you miss it on each side, if you know you're going to short-side yourself. You just need to make sure you're going to hit it inside 20 feet and give yourself a birdie chance and take chances when you need to, as opposed to, you know, how some people have played in the past where they just go at every single pin.

Q. Nine of the Top-10 here this week and -- how much do you think that is reflective of the strength of European golf? Our American cousins suggest -- (Inaudible.)
IAN POULTER: Yeah, I think -- I was just having a little look now. We have got on The European Tour, am I right in saying how many guys are in the top -- okay. But you're also looking at guys, the amount of European players that are in the top 20 in the world is more than there's ever been; and especially with that being a factor, guys love playing in the desert. That will be at the start of the year and certainly being this stretch of three tournaments, that's why the fields are that strong.
And with there being so many European players in the Top-50 and top 20 in the world, you know, these fields over here, these weeks are going to be very, very strong, as opposed to the fields in the States.
European golf is in fine order, and I think it's good to see so many players in that position.

Q. Going through that, and obviously where you've got a few more players in the Top-50 playing here, the World Ranking points, is there any way you could ever see the balance of power shifting, or is it just the money and the life-style over there will never stop people from wanting to play in America even if there are more points here?
IAN POULTER: Tough question. I think it goes down to how you want to base your whole year schedule to be honest. Very, very difficult -- I mean, it's very difficult to play a global schedule and travel as much as you can and perform at a very high level. I travelled a lot less last year than I did in previous years and found out that I had the best year ever.
Will there be a time change? You know, if consistently the purses were -- if the exchange rate changed and the purses there for were more equal on both sides, yeah, I would think there would be a lot more people playing over here than in the States. Certainly people have a money-driven -- that's not my -- that's not the reason why I'm playing a slightly heavy schedule in the States over The European Tour. I just want to play a global schedule, and I want to spend as much time as I possibly can with the wife and kids. And if I am based where I am, then it gives me more opportunity to see them more often than if I was to do it just solely based in Europe.

Q. Going back to the grooves issue, as well. Ernie asked Callaway to develop a slightly softer ball, which they have done for him. Is it something you would consider, playing a softer ball?
IAN POULTER: I've actually considered going to a slightly harder ball this morning. Bizarre, but I mean, there's a ball out right now, that Titleist have, which does go slightly further off the tee for me. It goes five yards further. If I put it in position as much as I did last year, therefore, I could be five or ten yards further off the tee, which therefore, should leave me a shorter iron into the green.
If I miss less greens than I did last year, then I wouldn't have to rely on my short game. I mean, my short game was fantastic.
And whether you're using a softer ball or a firmer ball, it's not really going to make much difference to be honest. It will do if you're coming out of the fairway, but if you're missing greens, it's not going to make any difference if you have a softball or a firm ball. The ball won't stop with the grooves -- it won't stop as well. I might be using a slightly firmer ball this week.

Q. You mentioned earlier your liking to this area generally and for The Desert Swing. You now have four European Tour events in this region; would you be able to pick a favourite venue?
IAN POULTER: I would probably say -- I don't think I can. I think they are all good. I mean, every golf course that we play in this stretch are good golf courses that are always in fantastic condition. The greens are always very, very good and we get looked after very well.
So they do do a great job in making us feel very welcome.

Q. Did you welcome the addition of the Dubai World Championship?
IAN POULTER: I thought it was great. I really thought it was a great tournament. The course was very good and I felt that it was a nice year-end to have it here when, you know, as you say, there's four tournaments in this region now. It's very fitting.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Ian, thanks very much for your time and good luck this week.

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