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February 21, 2010

Ian Poulter


STEVE TODD: Congratulations WGC Accenture Match Play Championship champion. How does that feel?
IAN POULTER: I really don't know, actually. Feels just amazing, really, to be in this situation. I was very comfortable on the golf course today, and I just felt keep doing what I was doing this week and hopefully I could get through today's round.
Paul was obviously going to be a great match and he proved that today. It was always going to be tough. I'm just so happy to finally win on American soil.
STEVE TODD: Your first victory on American soil. First Englishman to win a golf championship. You talked yesterday about ticking a few boxes, you certainly ticked a few there.
IAN POULTER: Yeah, there's certainly a few ticked in those boxes now. It's just another goal achieved, and hopefully we can now set our goals a little higher to kick on for the rest of the year.
STEVE TODD: Talk about the final round. You got yourself ahead obviously in the morning session. It was important to establish a lead. And there was a bit around the turn this afternoon where Paul put a bit of pressure on, but you managed to show the mental toughness we've seen all week.
IAN POULTER: Yeah, I managed to get nicely in front of Paul through the first part of the first 18 holes and then, you know, it's just trying to stay in the present, because I knew Paul had made a lot of birdies on this golf course this week and also last year. I always felt like he was going to have a chance to win a few holes, and he certainly did that towards the latter part of the first 18. I made a poor three-putt on the last, really, which was very frustrating.
And then I guess I made a few nice birdies early into the second 18 holes and stretched it to 4 again. And then Paul started to hit a couple of great golf shots, hit a couple of great birdies, and put pressure on me with about 13 holes to play.

Q. Where would you rank your short game now amongst the world's best? Because it really does seem to be up there and short game is often what makes the difference at Majors?
IAN POULTER: I would say my short game certainly this week has been as good as it's ever been. The last 12 months it's been up there with the best of them. I put a new lob wedge in the bag this week, which has worked very, very well. And it's a change because of the new grooves. The way the ball was coming off the old lob wedge, it was coming off too low. So I added more bounce to therefore pop the ball up in the air a little bit more and it was an extra bit of confidence that I had, you know, coming into this week.
I knew there were some runoffs this week, I knew there were some big undulation around the greens and I needed that little help when I did short side myself. And it certainly paid off to put a new lob wedge in there.

Q. Perhaps the answer to this is your short game, but what was the thing, the strength of your game all week, when you look back on it, what won it for you?
IAN POULTER: I putted very, very well this week. I think, yeah, my short game was very, very good. And obviously I obviously made a lot of good up-and-downs at the right time. It kept a lot of pressure on my playing partners this week.
Anytime you miss the green and can pretty much chip it, put it in a position where they think you're going to hole that putt, it then puts them under more pressure. And when I was hitting greens and giving myself chances, I was taking a lot of chances so I felt very comfortable on the greens. I was rolling the ball very, very well. I was hitting all my lines. And I would say not only my short game, but I would think my putting was probably the best part.

Q. What stage this week did you decide this is my week, at what stage did you know?
IAN POULTER: I don't know whether I knew, I just felt very, very comfortable on the golf course. I said to Terry on the front nine today, I feel really calm. I don't feel nervous. I felt in control of my game all week. I felt as if I had to start going at pins. I felt as if my game was good enough to keep attacking these pins.
And I think it's a quite tricky golf course where you don't need to at times. It's kind of like a game of chess. You just need to put yourself in position. And when you do put yourself in position then take your opportunities when you can. So I just felt really, really calm, very comfortable. I don't know if there was any given point where I felt as if it was going to be my week, I just felt very, very calm.

Q. Have you ever felt that much in control before?
IAN POULTER: No, probably not, to be honest. I've been a lot more nervous than what I was today in the past. With nine holes to play in previous wins, I would admit I've been nervous and I've been excited. But today I just felt calm and I felt that I could deliver whatever I needed to deliver.

Q. You talked about being comfortable out there on the course. Was it more a relaxed atmosphere, was it easier to beat a guy you've played so many rounds with as opposed to a whole leaderboard chasing you?
IAN POULTER: For sure. You've only got to beat one player. That player happened to be a fellow Ryder Cup partner and fellow Englishman and a good friend. So in some ways that's sort of very difficult because you can find yourself getting sidetracked and laughing and joking, which we were, but I think both of us were concentrating enough to put that aside and realize that there's a big tournament up for stake this week and to go out there and work hard to try to win.

Q. You said that putting was probably the best part of your game, I'd have to agree all week. But I noticed something when I was watching you today, you referred to a lot of notes in your yardage book. Is that going to be sold on eBay? Just kidding. Could you walk through your routine? You don't have to talk about what was in the book?
IAN POULTER: I spent about two hours cutting and pasting all week, at the start of the week, to be honest. I don't know if I want to give the secret away. But I've done a lot of homework on the greens this week. And therefore, you know, it's very difficult to actually pick the right line on these greens because a lot of these holes, a lot of the greens are cut into the -- kind of into the side of the mountain or the undulation where we are. So therefore you can actually -- it's an optical illusion, it actually breaks with the mountain. So I referred to it all week on every single putt. And it seemed to work.
I did it last year. I've done it at a few tournaments where we do have kind of a grid reference. And I find it very, very helpful.

Q. What iron did you hit on No. 3 in the afternoon?
IAN POULTER: 5-iron.

Q. Secondly, I know this is a while ago, in that back nine stretch in the morning where you seized control, there was one flop shot on 13 behind the green, where you got up-and-down and won the hole. Could you talk about that?
IAN POULTER: From the afternoon round --

Q. Morning session.
IAN POULTER: Morning session. Yes.

Q. Talk about that, about the lie?
IAN POULTER: I thought the lie was pretty good. It was in the first cut. So it wasn't on the fairway, it was actually just in the first cut. It was sitting up a little bit. And obviously I had quite a steep bank to go over, short left of that pin.
Now, there was a little bit of room behind the pin which the green actually sloped towards me, so I felt provided I made a good contact, I could pitch the ball on the flat of the green, get it to check and hopefully hold about five or six feet past the pin.

Q. Do you feel able to cope with any situation after what you went through going into the last Ryder Cup?
IAN POULTER: Yeah, I definitely felt more comfortable. And I think that's a big factor today, about going out there, playing against Paul in that 36-hole match. You know, I've never felt more comfortable on a golf course. I don't feel as if I'm under immense pressure, and I'm able to concentrate on the shots I need to play. And I think that's definitely been a help over the last 18 months.

Q. Does the Tiger Woods drama take away or diminish this championship to you in any way, just the media attention?
IAN POULTER: Next question.

Q. This is non-tournament, but you're a Mutual of Omaha, which is interesting for an Englishman. How did you get hooked up with them. When you're playing in the mid-East you're still wearing that, and I wonder how many people in Qatar and those places know?
IAN POULTER: Well, it's a U.S. deal that I have, and to be honest with you it's not required for me to wear it when I'm in the Middle East or in Europe.
But to be honest, you know, as much as I like clothes, as much as I've got lots of them, you know, I don't need to keep embroidering, not embroidering, and having so many different sets.
I've been with Mutual for the last couple of years. They've been a great company. They approached me and I'm very happy to be with such a great company.

Q. In the afternoon session, which was the better up-and-down 12 or 15?
IAN POULTER: 15, without any question. 15 was probably one of the toughest shots I had. The ball had a lot of mud on it. It was quite a bare lie, because it was quite close to where the drain was. And I had to hit -- I had to hit that shot absolutely perfect. And I didn't actually see what happened, but it finished a couple of inches from the hole. I think it might have hit the pin or lipped out, but it was perfect. That's one of the nicest shots I've played in a while.

Q. Was that a lob wedge?
IAN POULTER: That was a lob wedge, yes.

Q. What was your hardest match this week?
IAN POULTER: Thongchai Jaidee, I think. I've played a bit with Thongchai. I know he's a great player. And he was always going to be one which potentially, looking at it on paper, could have easily gone the other way. So that was a very pleasing match to finish that on 18. I had a good six-, seven-foot putt uphill, left-to-right, and I really felt was huge for me to be in this position this week, to beat Thongchai.

Q. A couple of years ago, I know you were taken way out of context, but the comment that if I ever play my best, it's just me and Tiger. I wonder if you shared that today?
IAN POULTER: I didn't quite say it was just me and Tiger (laughter).

Q. What did you say?
IAN POULTER: That's all in the past (laughter). I just felt that if I could deliver what I believed I could, then I could put myself in a good situation. I've certainly done that over the last 18 months. And I've certainly been able to deliver on that today.
It's so nice to see myself at No. 5 and get higher and higher up the World Rankings and hopefully can keep going in that same direction.

Q. With Tiger out indefinitely, do you think the No. 1 is up for grabs this year?
IAN POULTER: I'm not sure if it's up for grabs. I just think that for a while, you know, until Tiger comes back to play golf, obviously he's going to be dropping World Ranking points. So guys will be getting closer and closer to that No. 1 spot.

Q. English golfers are now 4, 5 and 6 in the World Rankings, and you've got some good young players coming up as well. What's leading to this in your opinion?
IAN POULTER: I'm really not sure, but I just think that there's been a lot of great talent in England for such a long time. And it's so nice to see guys actually deliver on the golf course. We've been waiting for a long time. It still hasn't happened that -- an Englishman hasn't won a Major for a long time. It's about time the guys that have put themselves in position 4, 5 and 6 in the world, I guess, should step up to the plate and hopefully deliver on that.

Q. We've heard a lot about the -- I'm curious, what kind of burden is it, British winning on American soil?
IAN POULTER: It is a burden. We get asked all the time when are you guys finally going to win? So, yeah, we get a lot of pressure put on ourselves, and we decide to put even more pressure on ourselves as professionals. So, you know, maybe we shouldn't put ourselves under so much pressure and maybe we'd be able to deliver more often.

Q. What's the significance of winning on this soil? It's a WGC event?

Q. Yes.
IAN POULTER: Five or six years of hard work, coming over to change my residency, to be living in America, to finally win over here just means -- it means everything. I've moved my family across. And it's just so pleasing to be able to finally say now I'm a winner on the PGA TOUR.

Q. Are you going to play next week?
IAN POULTER: I'm not sure yet. I'm supposed to be (laughter). I've got a feeling I might be quite tired (laughter).

Q. I bet they're hoping at Phoenix, right?
IAN POULTER: We'll see.

Q. Only fitting that of all the World Golf Championships, you win first, the Walter Hagen cup, a stylish dresser?
IAN POULTER: He was very snappy. Are you saying I'm a snappy dresser?

Q. I'd be curious now, the last decade where there's been so much attention on your clothing, has it ever been frustrating at all that perhaps some of the mainstream fans haven't looked at you as much as a golfer as you'd like to, instead put so much focus on, for example, what you're wearing?
IAN POULTER: I've had a -- I think I've had an interesting ride from a lot of people's point of view of how I present myself on the golf course, as opposed to how well I can actually perform. So I guess -- I mean, this to me is very pleasing to be able to be in that position now. And actually, I guess, 5 in the world stands for more than just what I wear on the golf course.
For me it's a business and one that I'm very passionate about. And I take pride and care on how I present myself on the golf course. And a lot of people haven't really seen it that way over the last few years. But I iron all my clothes for every match and I want to go out on the golf course looking good. So that's my prerogative.

Q. You talked about feeling tired. When you got back to your hotel room yesterday evening and maybe had your meal or whatever, and saw Paul was still on the golf course, even as it was getting dark, what did you feel when you saw that?
IAN POULTER: I felt the aches and pains that he was feeling, probably. I run a bath, I was sitting on the bed, I was sending a couple of Twitter messages, Tweets, out. And they were still playing.
So after the bath took a good five or ten minutes to run, and by the time that had run, they were still playing, and I was still kind of wanting to get in the bath, and they were still on the golf course. I was just amazed that they were on the course three hours after I'd finished, you know.
It was nice that I could, you know, kind of sit back and relax while they were still working hard. And that might be one of the factors of why I've come through today the way I have.

Q. Will there be a celebration tonight?
IAN POULTER: No, unfortunately not, I am getting on a plane to go to Palm Springs to go over to Cobra and do a commercial at 6:30 in the morning. So from any calculations I haven't got long and I can't see myself having too many drinks tonight because I might wake up with a sore head tomorrow.

Q. After the experience with Room 13 or the one than finished with 13, will you ever be superstitious again, do you think?
IAN POULTER: I kind of like No. 13. I was very concerned, I should say, more concerned than what most people would think. I was very much thinking about moving rooms again. But I guess it worked. It worked fine.
STEVE TODD: Congratulations.

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