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March 23, 2011

Ian Poulter


MARK STEVENS: Like to welcome Ian Poulter, you're about to make your sixth start at Bay Hill, you just got off the course, if you want to talk about the course conditions and then we'll take some questions.
IAN POULTER: Okay. I played here Sunday evening, four o'clock was my first practice round here in a couple of years, and I felt the course was very, very good. I like the changes. I like the way they have created a lot of run-offs around the green. For me, I much prefer that, because the green consistency normally is pretty firm and pretty fast.
So when in previous years, when there's been rough around the green, I think it plays very difficult to hit good chip shots when you have missed the greens. For now, with the way they have changed it, tight lies, perfect. I like the tight chipping. So I think the course has been changed and I really like it.
So very much looking forward to tomorrow. Pro-Am was good this morning. The greens were a little softer today. I think on Sunday night, they got them pretty much where they want them. That's pretty firm and fast. I obviously think they backed them off today, put a little water on them last night. So I think they will be firm and fast by tomorrow afternoon.

Q. What's the deal with these allergy tests and all of these things you've been going to. It would appear you're basically allergic to every organic object.
IAN POULTER: I've had hayfever since whenever, whenever I can remember. So I've always suffered summertime. My asthma gets affected, more in the hayfever season.
So I just wanted really to find out and do the tests if there's anything I can take or anything I can do to not be as affected as much as I can.
So I just went in and had the whole test done to find out exactly what I am allergic to. Obviously you know, the stuff that I can cut out -- I'm not having any carpet in the new house as opposed to where I am right now, I have carpet and obviously that collects dust and it's difficult to get it all out, so I've had wooden floors put in. I wanted to have the whole test to find out and try to cut out as many of my allergies as I possibly can.

Q. Not much you can do about grass, though?
IAN POULTER: No; occupational hazard. Spending seven hours a day on the golf course with grass and trees is obviously what I'm allergic to. So that's pretty difficult.

Q. You've played all over the world; how do you like the Florida spring of bermudagrass to play on? Is it an easy adjustment, hard adjustment? Just talk about that if you would, please?
IAN POULTER: I guess I've been in the States long enough now, and I've obviously been here full time for two-and-a-bit-years and obviously the green surfaces at Nona where I practice most of the time are bermuda and I got used to them pretty quickly. You have to obviously read grain and you've obviously got to allow for that.
I think I feel pretty comfortable on this surface now, and you know, I don't have a problem now switching from bermuda to bent or poa annua like I did several years ago, going from kind of general poa annua greens and coming to bermuda was a bit more of a shock. But it's easy to get used to bermuda and then go back the other way; than play on that surface and have to have the surprise of grain.

Q. Same with chipping and pitch shots around the green?
IAN POULTER: Sure. As long as you know you're chipping into the grain or downgrain, the ball is going to react totally different.
So yeah, it takes a little bit of getting used to, but I think I've done enough practice on this surface now.

Q. Just going back to the allergy thing, have you had moments when like the eyes have been streaming and it's really affected your game a lot?
IAN POULTER: Sure. Various courses -- I mean, Augusta National is very strong pollen. The pine is very, very strong. You see it on the car when you come out. If you play in the morning and you come out in the morning, the whole windscreen is covered in pollen. Wearing sunglasses for me is a huge plus when it is very, very strong like that, because if it's all over the windscreen and you're not wearing glasses, it's going to be in your eyes. So they have definitely helped.
But I still get affected, so take eyedrops, tablets.

Q. Is that part of your routine?
IAN POULTER: Yeah, nasal spray.

Q. Do you wear contacts?
IAN POULTER: No, I don't. I had laser three years ago. It was worse; my eyes were worse with contacts. They just felt gritty, sandy, and definitely my eyes have definitely felt better the last few years without contact lenses.

Q. Is there anything they can do for you, medication for the golf course, now that they have got to -- obviously it's such a broad range, I don't know that they can knock it all down?
IAN POULTER: I'm probably going to have an injection, an antihistamine kind of injection before I get to Augusta just to hopefully kick that in, because it's especially bad.
But I'm going to be taking an immuno therapy -- I don't know what the whole word of it is. But it's basically they create some kind of serum which I take orally, just put a drop under my tongue and I'll take that over a number of months so it just -- I take on what I'm allergic to and hopefully build my immune system up to it.

Q. Orlando, I notice you support the local basketball team; have you always been interested in basketball? Was that an attempt to get some roots here?
IAN POULTER: I played as a kid at school. The school I went to, Barclay School, was one of the only schools that played basketball. So I enjoyed it when I was at school, and obviously when I left, obviously I didn't really follow much basketball at all. I missed my football, my soccer. So not going to the Emirates Stadium for the last two years has been pretty tough.
But I enjoy the atmosphere and I like the excitement. So I still want to follow a team or go to a stadium, and obviously being a sports fan, Orlando Magic is perfect. It's 20 minutes from my front door. I can take my kids; it's a nice environment for them to go into a sporting arena like that. Yeah, I've come to enjoy it a lot more.

Q. You're credited with being the guy who knows the World Rankings the best; is that a conscious decision or something you were just curious in? Do you feel like it benefitted your career? Do you make any decisions based on the World Rankings like where you play and those kinds of things?
IAN POULTER: Well, you know how you get paid and I know how I get paid. (Laughter) Kind of works in your favor if you know exactly you get paid.
I've looked at it a number of times, where I understand it. It makes perfect sense to me how your points drop-off and how you accumulate your points.
So I mean, I think it's very simple if you sit down and go through it a few times. People play well, they are going to go past you, so make sure you play better than them.

Q. So you didn't contact anyone over there to ask how the system works or to get taught about it?
IAN POULTER: To be honest, you can work it out for yourself pretty quickly. If you click on the sheets and see which week is dropping off next, you know where your points are going to be dropping off and your value is your points as the weeks move on. I think it's pretty easy to work out. But I'm sure some guys look at it and are baffled by the whole science of numbers. It's not that difficult if you break it down.

Q. What are your thoughts on the role they play now in golf where so much, fields, etc., are decided by them?
IAN POULTER: It makes sense. I mean, the field has to have a certain amount of ranking points and obviously the field itself will dictate how many points we are playing for each week, which makes perfect sense to me. I mean, various open tournaments are worth more points because they are obviously opens. So it's how we rank ourselves. It's the only way to do it fairly.
With the global schedule that we have got nowadays, you have to base it on the strength of the field.

Q. Do you like the two-year system?
IAN POULTER: Yeah, I think it works pretty good. I mean, you can play exceptionally well and obviously the longer that two-year period rolls on, obviously those points drop off and they are worth less and less points as they go forward.
I think it works very, very good. The minimum divisor is 40, which I think's fine. I think that's probably the right number.

Q. Tiger is back here and he's won here so much and he's buried some really memorable putts to win here. Obviously his putting isn't the same as it was. Anything you've observed in his putting over the last year or so?
IAN POULTER: To be honest, I haven't really watched an awful lot of golf, and I don't watch an awful lot of golf to be honest. Slight reruns.
I think it's a confidence thing, and I think that as soon as he puts himself in a position of in contention, and I really meaning up there, I think it would be very easy for him to see his lines again very quickly. If you start missing putts and you start missing your lines and if everything is on top of you and you are kind of putting more pressure on yourself to putt well, there's definitely.
I think if he puts himself in the mix, I would know where my money is going.

Q. You obviously won the Match Play last year, breakthrough win for you; are you surprised you haven't won since then (sic - 2010 UBS Hong Kong Open). Second question, there's been a lot of talk about where guys play lately and I know it's a tough decision for you being a European how much to play here or The European Tour, obviously supporting both tours in terms of the future, how do you see that shaping up for you, even though you've kind of settled here with roots and so forth.
IAN POULTER: Yeah, I'm disappointed I haven't won more events. I think I had a bit of a low period after winning. I didn't kind of shake off the whole fact of winning pretty quickly. I probably got too involved in gearing my mind around being in The Ryder Cup.
So therefore that was a distraction through the middle part of last year, and I don't play many events on the PGA TOUR. I keep it to a minimum. It's only 15 or 16. So after the Match Play, I probably only played 14 events. I've only played a couple this year, so it's not many. I haven't won in probably 18 events or 17 events. So I know it's been a long time but it's not many events.
I'm conscious of it. I think I should be winning more. And I'm trying hard and working hard to do so. Am I happy playing my golf here? Absolutely. We have moved here and been here for a couple of years and very happy with that. The bigger picture on golf, yeah, I think it's going to go more international, more global. It's no change to me. I play a global schedule anyway. I play enough events in Europe to keep my card and a stretch of events in Asia, and the PGA TOUR has opened an event already in Asia so I am sure they probably open a few more.
So that will be no surprise or no difference to my schedule. I sit on an airplane for quite a long period of time during the year, and I do it, and I know a lot of the American guys don't do it. They don't want to travel. They don't want to fly 15 hours over to Asia and play golf. I think it suits me fine.

Q. At the Tavistock the other day after it was winding down, you and Ernie and Tiger were standing back and talking and playing with your cell phones and considering a nice little conversation; do you sense any change in him over the last few months as he's kind of tried to become a little, I guess friendlier? Do you see that at all? Would you have had that conversation with him a year ago?
IAN POULTER: I'm no closer today than I was six months ago. I don't have his cell phone number. I'm not sure how many guys would have his cell phone number. Tiger's Tiger. He keeps to himself I think. I wouldn't impose on that.
But in that environment where we are kind of in that relaxed atmosphere, of which the Tavistock Cup is certainly one of those, he's the Tiger I've always known to be honest with you, and he's always been friendly to me. There's no real difference there at all for me. I think he is trying in some ways I guess to be a bit more open, a bit more accessible. That's not necessarily to me but it might be to all you guys and some fans, but I don't see that as any different to how I normally see him.

Q. Could you describe the par 3 14th hole, your overall strategy when you play there? Is it a good scoring opportunity?
IAN POULTER: Good scoring opportunity; I mean, the whole plays 210 yards and if you pitch it on the front, the ball is going to finish at the back of the green. You know what, if anybody plays that under par for the whole week, they have done pretty damn well.

Q. These aren't my questions by the way.
IAN POULTER: I figured.

Q. How about the 17th hole, what are your thoughts on the tee and how do you decide on a plan of attack?
IAN POULTER: Hit it in the middle of the green and if you manage to drop one in, then happy days and if not, walk on and try to get off with three and move on. It's one of the toughest closing holes on the PGA TOUR.
MARK STEVENS: Thank you very much and good luck this week.

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