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February 22, 2011

Ian Poulter


CHRIS REIMER: We want to welcome our defending champion here to the WGC Accenture Championship, Ian Poulter. Ian, maybe just start with a few comments about returning here as the defending champion.
IAN POULTER: I'm very pleased to be back. Good memories from last year, obviously played exceptionally well, got out on the course, played 9 holes yesterday, felt good, hit it good, done some good work on my two weeks off. So looking forward to having another good week here on Dove Mountain.
CHRIS REIMER: As a thank you gift for being the defending champion, you get Stewart Cink in the first round, a pretty good match play record here.
IAN POULTER: Looking forward to that very much. Stewart, as you said, has a great match play record. He's played the last few Ryder Cups and is a very strong match player. So it will be an interesting match, but hopefully one that I can come through and move my way through the table.

Q. When you saw the draw, Cink is a great match play player, did you think -- Westwood was in earlier on, the Top 64 players, it doesn't really matter?
IAN POULTER: I don't think it makes any difference. You're going to see some upsets tomorrow. You're also going to see some guys get through shooting 1- or 2-over par. You just have to beat your opponent. Whether it's Westwood, whether it's someone further down the rank action, you just have to play your game and hopefully that's good enough.

Q. As defending champion, did you expect to go out at 7:25?

Q. Is that a good draw? Bad draw?
IAN POULTER: I don't think it really matters, does it? It's going to be the same for both of us. It's going to be cold. You're going to have to have the mitts on for the front nine and hopefully you're a couple up the first nine holes.

Q. Obviously you're defending, but it could be the shortest defense ever, you could be in by half after 11:00?
IAN POULTER: Could be, could be on an airplane by mid-afternoon, I guess (laughter). Thanks for that (laughter). I hadn't really thought about that until you just mentioned it, but thanks, well done. I'd rather be having a nice salmon for a starter and filet steak for dinner tomorrow night.

Q. You've got a lot of kudos after the ball marking incident for the grace with which you handled that. Can you talk a little bit about how you bring grace to the game? Because I thought you were just so calm and cool about that whole thing afterwards?
IAN POULTER: I think it's one of those moments there's not a lot you can do about it. It's one of those things in the rule book which leaves you scratching your head sometimes. And it was unfortunate. I mean, I would have been more disappointed had I been four feet and Robert was kind of 30 feet. I mean, if you look at the averages of someone holing a 30-footer and someone missing a four-footer, then I guess it wasn't too hard to take, really. I should have hit a better shot in the first place and put him under more pressure. But, you know, we've just got to move on.

Q. Just curious, you talk about upset, how do you qualify an upset in this? Cink's World Ranking has dropped like, I don't know if people would qualify what an upset is. Is it strictly your ranking?
IAN POULTER: Sure. Has to be. That's how you've played over the last two years. Your ranking is your ranking. It doesn't lie. If you don't play well for a couple of years then your ranking is going to slip. Or if you play exceptionally well, then obviously you're going to be higher up in the rank, so you have to look at it on a ranking basis, otherwise we'd all issue Tiger Woods a No. 1.

Q. Why are you surprised at the 7:25 tee time?
IAN POULTER: Well, I'm not sure whether -- I'm not sure that I thought I would be off that early, to be honest. I don't know. I didn't know what time I was expecting to tee off, to be honest with you.

Q. Defending champion usually has a later tee time?
IAN POULTER: Obviously not, no. I mean, it really actually doesn't matter. It doesn't matter what time you tee off.

Q. But you said you were surprised?
IAN POULTER: I was a little surprised. I wasn't expecting to be out first. I mean 7:25, defending champion, how many people are going to be through the gates at 7:00 in the morning?

Q. Your initial reaction to it?
IAN POULTER: You don't want to know (laughter).

Q. I actually do (laughter)?
IAN POULTER: Holy -- is that what time I'm off? I mean it was early, you know. It's going to be cold, you know. I'm a Floridian, come on (laughter).

Q. There was so much made and talked about last year about the all England final and I forget who else we had, Sergio and Camilo, didn't we? I was curious, even though you're playing for yourself this week as an individual, do you get any sense at all that this is a chance for the Tours to shine, whether it's the U.S. or the European or even the Japanese Tour, for that matter, that they're a part of it, too?
IAN POULTER: Sure. No, I mean, as you said, it was an all England final last time around and that was -- it might have been a surprise to some, but it certainly hasn't been a surprise if you look at the rankings over the last couple of years at how well the European players have played. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see something similar happen this year, with how you look at the World Rankings, European players are very, very strong. But as you say, you know what, it can quite easily in this format change very quickly, and be an all Japanese final.

Q. We've got at the top of the World Rankings some different faces than we've seen for several years. Do you like a bit more of a scrum up there? Do you think that's good for the game or is there a difference and if those are a little more interchangeable, different players get their chance at the top?
IAN POULTER: I mean, the top of the World Rankings has certainly changed and it's made it very bunched for everybody in that Top 10 to look at it and say that if they perform well then they can certainly make a run at No. 1. So it's certainly made it a lot more interesting than knowing there's a nine-point gap between No. 2 and No. 1. So it does certainly make -- it makes it a lot more interesting for everybody, for the media, for the spectators, for us to look at and think that that No. 1 spot is achievable.

Q. Considering you got your first victory on American soil here last year, does this place hold special significance for you?
A. It does, yeah. I've got my lucky yardage book in my pocket, ready to go for this time around. I had a look at it last night. I had a look at my yardages, I had a look at the greens reference. And I'll be using it hopefully all this week. I like the golf course, it suits my eye. And I was quite excited to go out there and play nine holes yesterday.

Q. How much more taxing is it to go through a match play tournament and win it as opposed to a stroke play tournament, how much more does it take out of you have mentally, if any?
IAN POULTER: Well, it's five days. And last year it was 104 holes. So normally it's over four days and 72 holes. So you're playing a third of the tournament again on the top to get through. Obviously this year the change has been made where it's only going to be an 18-hole final. So that will be obviously less strenuous on your body. But, yeah, I mean it's difficult. You're under pressure from the first tee. And I don't think you're under that much pressure first tee in a 72-hole stroke play event.

Q. It sort of continues, does it not? It's like being in contention for each match?
IAN POULTER: True. From the first tee shot. I mean, your adrenalin is going, your nerves are up a little bit. And you want to obviously dispatch your opponent as quickly as possible. So you're very switched on from that first tee shot.

Q. Based on that is there an element of the Ryder Cup in the way you play?
IAN POULTER: Sure. I mean, Ryder Cup is match play. For me it's the best format to play. I love it. I love the challenge of it. I think it's very exciting. The holes run out every hole. And you really want to get rid of your opponent. It's one-on-one. It's good mind games.

Q. What was the nicest thing to come out your success last year? And where is the trophy kept in your house?
IAN POULTER: Trophy is still in the box in my games room at the moment, because we're building a new house and there's a nice place going in the new house. So hopefully we can have a couple more spots in the trophy cabinet for a few more by the time the house is built.

Q. (Inaudible.)
IAN POULTER: I just think, you know, after playing over 100 events on the PGA TOUR to finally win one. And the one to win, the WGC, makes it even more special. I mean, it's just a bit of extra confidence to know that, you know, you've won a PGA TOUR event, and that being a WGC event, so it's a worldwide event, and you know what, it just gives me a bit more confidence to go in and play well in big tournaments.

Q. What's the most interesting or two experience of mind games in the past?
IAN POULTER: I mean, you're never at the hole. I think that's one to me which is fascinating. We've seen it time and time again. And you can hit two great shots into a par-4, be six feet from the hole, and your partner hits it and he's hit it in a hazard to a hazard to miss the green, he's chipped it on to 20 feet, he's holed his putt, and all of a sudden you miss your putt and you miss the next one coming back, and all of a sudden, you know, you've haven't won the hole, it doesn't make any sense. That's what's fascinating about this game. You're never out. You can hole bunker shots, you can hole chip shots, you can hole shots from the fairway. It's a great game. We've seen it in every match play situation. You see it in the Ryder Cup. That's why match play is such a great event.

Q. Could I ask you: You've been around for a few years, and then suddenly you seem to have blossomed. I wonder if it had anything to do with playing at Valhalla and under so much pressure that very first match you played and maybe coming down the 18, you had a fantastic play to get, I think you had a half on the first match. From that moment on, was that a defining moment for you, that particular tournament?
IAN POULTER: I think being picked to play match play and playing as well as I played was a huge -- it was a huge step. Yeah, I was under a lot of pressure. I was under a lot of media pressure and I had to perform. So I think coming off the back of that my game has definitely improved. I think I'm mentally stronger on the big occasion than what I was previous and that's what I probably needed to step myself up to another level. So hopefully we can keep all of those thoughts with me and keep moving forward in the right direction.

Q. You talked about how the pressure builds from the very beginning in match play. Can you say a little bit about how you handle that pressure? You talk about the pressure and the adrenalin flowing. As a world class great player, what do you do to manage that?
IAN POULTER: I think it's pretty simple, to be honest. I just switch the on button on. And I'm easily distracted, to be honest, but I'm not easily distracted in match play. It goes back to my school report. It sums me up in a nutshell. Very easy easily distracted but when he concentrates, it works fantastic. So I just need to do that and learn how to do that every single week I play golf. But for some reason, I seem to be able to do it in match play. So hopefully that button gets switched on the first hit and I'm not easily distracted.

Q. With 104 holes played here last year, what's the one shot that's the most memorable for you?
IAN POULTER: 15, the lob shot, 25-yard lob shot. That was probably one of the best pitch shots I've ever played.
CHRIS REIMER: On another note, I know that obviously we have a promotion going on here, Dress Ian with the fans putting their votes together for what you're going to wear tomorrow. It's a mixture of social media and fashion, which are two things you've obviously been keen on. Before we go out there and unveil the outfit, can you comment about the promotion, and why you were involved in it.
IAN POULTER: Sure, I think it's something cool to offer back to the fans, obviously. I sent a couple of Tweets out during the year. And it's nice to be able to offer something back to the fans. We've put three outfits out there for them to choose for me to wear on the first day. So we'll find out in 15 minutes which of the outfits will be chosen to be worn. So I'm looking forward to that.
CHRIS REIMER: They include the mittens and the hat?
IAN POULTER: No, they don't include the mittens, but they're in the bag.
CHRIS REIMER: Sounds good. We'll head out there if any of you guys want to join us, that would be great. Thanks a lot, Ian.

End of FastScripts

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