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June 17, 2010

Ian Poulter


BETH MURRISON: It's a pleasure to be joined by Ian Poulter. He shot a 1-under par in the first round of the 2010 U.S. Open here at Pebble Beach. Could you talk a little bit about your play today in the round.
IAN POULTER: I played lovely today. It was very nice to get out on the course first thing in the morning and the greens were rolling very nice. Nice to give myself a few good chances, poor bogey at 2, I felt I had a great chance there and the green side bunker there, I left myself the right side of the pin, and kind of missed what was a nine out of ten up-and-down.
But I made a quick birdie back on 3. A nice birdie on 6, par-5. A good 20 foot birdie putt on 13. Frustrating bogey on 14, the par-5.
But I managed to make a good five at the last. All in all it was a good day. And I'm very happy to be in red figures.

Q. Could you just assess how the course is playing and whether it compares to the practice rounds, the conditions that you had.
IAN POULTER: The greens are a lot softer this morning than what they have been the last couple of days. I'm not sure how much water they put on them last night. But in areas they were very soft. In other areas it was kind of difficult to get your tee peg in to repair a pitch mark.
So they were kind of are patchy from that point of view. Sometimes you don't know whether the ball, if you go in with an 8-iron it's going to stop or whether it's going to release 25 feet.
So it kind of makes it tricky and you have to kind of second guess all the time. But you always want an uphill birdie putt, and sometimes it's better to have a 30 foot from short of the green than knocking it through the back.
So the course is drying out, it's definitely getting fiery in places, so it's going to be, the scoring won't be good.

Q. I thought I better come in today, which was better, your ball striking or yourself control?
IAN POULTER: I think my ball striking today was great. That's as good as I've hit it in a long time. And I've really worked hard this week changing a little area of my swing which I felt wasn't in control the last couple of months and I've kind of found it again. The ball striking because of that change has been a big difference this week.

Q. What did you change?
IAN POULTER: I was taking the club back, for me, on a good line all the way back, but my hands were in a good position but the club head was slightly inside my hands, so therefore when I got it to the top of my back swing my left wrist was slightly cupped, and that was causing a few problems.
So I just reset it in a slightly different position and I've managed to get my ball flight back again.

Q. With this course setup would you be satisfied with four straight rounds 70, and do you think that could win the tournament?
IAN POULTER: Who knows? I don't know. I'm not thinking about numbers, I'm not thinking about what kind of score might win this golf tournament, I just am happy to go out there and play as good as I possibly can. I'm not interested in a number right now. But I will tell you the golf course is difficult. There's not going to be many good scores on it today. And I can't see it getting any easier.

Q. There are a lot of comparisons made with the setup of this golf course to the seaside courses for The Open Championship. The similarities are more obvious, what are the differences? How is this setup different than you would encounter at the Open Championship?
IAN POULTER: Obviously I think there's an, obviously, a lot more rough around the greens. But as far as that, the rest of the golf course plays very similar. It's very fiery on the fairways, there's a lot of irons off tee shots, which is what you would get in links golf.
You just can't run it up on to a few of these greens because of the angle, the way the greens have been built and the bunkers in front. So you have to put it in position and then therefore try and give your self the best possible chance of getting it underneath, and that sometimes is very tricky. But it plays very linksy. I like the look of this course.

Q. How would you define the character of U.S. Open as opposed to the character of a Masters or The Open Championship? Do the tournaments ask different things of you as a player?
IAN POULTER: Sure. The Masters is completely different. Completely different to obviously the U.S. Open, The Open Championship and the U.S. PGA. It's a totally different type of golf course. There's hardly any rough, and obviously the U.S. Open lends itself to thick rough and patchy rough around certain greens and that's always very difficult.
Obviously, The Open Championship, you got long wispy grass, huge fliers, and huge greens normally.

Q. It's clear that you obviously really love this place. Did you come in at the start of the week and feel like a tourist for a couple of days walking around with your eyes open, and how long did it take you to get over that and get your blinders on?
IAN POULTER: I got over it pretty quickly. It's just a fabulous place to go and play golf. So I played my first couple of rounds of golf taking in, not just the golf course, but obviously the scenery.
I think it's a very special golf course, I think they have laid it out amazing, and it's just a joy to play. You could play this golf course every day of the week and never get bored. It's very special.

Q. What hole do you feel played the most difficult today and if there was one shot in your round that maybe took the most thought, what shot was that?
IAN POULTER: Well 18 probably. I played that pretty difficult, to be honest with you. Couldn't get out of the sand.
I would say that the toughest shot I had to play was probably my bunker shot from 40 yards from the pin on 18.

Q. The 18th. Have you ever had a par before when you've gone in three bunkers on a hole?
IAN POULTER: Well it's technically two bunkers, but it's just a very big one on the left there.
No, I don't think I have, actually. But it was very bucket and spade like, wasn't it.

Q. Is that the sort of thing that you got to do at a U.S. Open?
IAN POULTER: You have to. You have to grind. It's a hole, obviously you're not going to miss it left off the tee, and the right bunker's not disastrous to go in. I mean I had a great lie with a 4-iron and really I should have put it in play. I hit what I thought was a nice shot, but it turned over in the wind and kind of had a ball that was sitting a little down from 99 yards. And that's never an easy bunker shot with a pitching wedge. So I just kind of got -- I got a little lucky with a 18 footer that fell in the middle.

Q. Padraig Harrington said he was kind of surprised that were weren't some better scores out there. That he felt like the scoring conditions were pretty good. Do you agree or not?
IAN POULTER: Yeah, probably, because the greens were soft this morning. They're the softest we have found it all week. So we knew the golf course was firming up and then they have obviously put an awful lot of water on the greens last night. So therefore it's kind of fooled a few of us.
The third hole today you go in -- going in with a lob wedge or sand wedge, we were spinning the ball back 10 feet. So, yeah, I think some of those pins were accessible this morning, but obviously with the weather the way it's set up, it's going to dry up by lunch time and get very difficult for the guys this afternoon.

Q. That pretty much answered my question, but you think it's going to be significantly tougher for the people in the afternoon and all four day, do you think?
IAN POULTER: I do, yeah. Because I think that the greens are certainly going to dry out to an extent where I would say four or five of those pin locations are now going to be very hard to get at.
So 20 feet is going to be a great shot, as opposed to this morning you felt as if you could get it in there inside 10 feet. So I think the golf course is going to be tricky this afternoon, especially if the wind picks up and blows a little bit more than it has this morning.

Q. You said you had birdied 3, correct?

Q. We don't seem to be seeing any kind of red numbers on those first five holes. The red numbers seem to start like on 6, 7, 8, 9, and somehow I would expect those to be harder and the earlier ones not to be quite as much of a challenge and that doesn't seem to be the way it's working out. Do you have any idea why that is based on what you saw?
IAN POULTER: Well, I think if you put it in the fairway on 1 you got a decent look at a birdie chance there.
You should be able to get it in and leave yourself a 10 foot birdie putt on 1.

Q. But they aren't. It's like black numbers on the first five or six holes and then the red numbers start. Seems?
IAN POULTER: I don't know.

Q. I don't know either. I was asking you.
IAN POULTER: No idea. I guess the wind's in a direction where some of the pins are accessible on other holes and not on the first few.
But I felt the first few were, I birdied 3 and 6, I felt the first few were kind of a chance to make a few birdies before the tough stretch of holes. Funny old game.

Q. Do you feel like you read the greens well today and whether or not -- what do you -- how do you feel about the difficulty of the greens out there as far as seeing the lines and hitting your own lines?
IAN POULTER: I felt as if I read the greens very well. I had enough birdie opportunities which I took a few of them, a few slipped by, but this poa annua grass is tricky to putt on when it starts to dry out. There's soft patches and there's firm patches and when that happens they're going to get very bumpy. You're going to see guys missing putts from three feet and get frustrated.
But it's all about staying patient, and obviously as you said, hitting your lines, which I did today, and for me I felt the ball rolled pretty good first thing this morning.

Q. This is a year where a regular tour event and a Major, the U.S. Open, are being contested on the same golf course. When I've had the chance to walk out on the golf course it just looks completely different to me than it does during the AT&T. Is it playing as different as it looks between the two tournaments?
IAN POULTER: I've got no idea. I've never played the AT&T. Sorry.
BETH MURRISON: Thanks very much for being here, and congratulations again on your fine play.

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