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May 10, 2012

Ian Poulter


DOUG MILNE:¬† Ian Poulter, thanks for joining us for a few minutes here at THE PLAYERS Championship, making your ninth start here this week and you're off to a great start, 7‑under 65 today.¬† Just a few comments on the round and then we'll open it up and take a few questions.
IAN POULTER:  Got off to a nice start really.  Hit a nice shot into the first and had a great look there.  Two putts at the second for birdie.  Hit a lovely sand iron, which was probably a millimeter from dropping on 4 for eagle.  It just didn't seem to want to go in.  So I had to tap it in.
Soft bogey for me, middle of the fairway on 7.¬† Pulled 8‑iron left and really had no shot.¬† So that was a soft bogey.¬† And then from 9, I had nine single putts, I didn't realize, until someone just told me.
I birdied 9, 10,11, 12.  All of those were decent chances, putts you would expect to hole.  And had a nice birdie on 16 and 17.

Q.  Has that been coming?  Have you been expecting a round like that, the way you've been playing?
IAN POULTER:  I mean, I've felt good on the course.  Obviously from Bay Hill, playing nicely there was obviously nice after pulling out of a tournament.
Played nice at Augusta.
I didn't hole putts in China and Korea that I probably should have holed, and probably if I had of done, I would have been in contention.  I played really solid today and holed the right putts at the right times.  I feel like I'm back to normal and I feel like I'm out there playing the golf I feel I should be playing.

Q.  You've got a pretty good record here.  Can you explain what you like about the golf course?
IAN POULTER:  I like that it's a proper challenge.  There's a number of tee shots which are key.  You have to hit a real good drive on 2 to set yourself up for birdie.
There's tricky shots on 4.¬† There's tough shots on 8,9, in terms of a lay‑up position, and then obviously second shot into 11 is very difficult.¬† Obviously 16, 17, 18 speak for themselves, so there's a number of shots around this golf course which I get a good visual on and I guess it kind of focuses my mind, which is always good.

Q.  Do you ever remember having nine single putts in succession as a pro?
IAN POULTER:  I can't remember where it would be, but I can recollect it.  Yeah, I think I've had 21 putts in a round of golf before; back to the good old days as a junior.  You have to hole it from everywhere, that was nice.

Q.  But not as a pro?
IAN POULTER:¬† I mean, I have, but I can't remember where it was.¬† Ivory Coast was one of those weeks where I had 21 putts for the week.¬† There's a good chance it could have been there.¬† But I can't‑‑ not that springs to mind.

Q.  And where would you put this in terms of rounds you've had, where would you rank this?
IAN POULTER:¬† It was a very, very good round of golf.¬† That's definitely probably in the Top‑10 of the rounds of golf I've ever played.¬† To turn around and say, that you're going to walk off 7‑under par a little bit disappointed, but if I look at the chances I had on the front nine, that could have easily been a few more.

Q.  Did you look at this week and next week as a chance to really build on what did you at the Masters and get your season off and running?
IAN POULTER:  Not really.  I mean, I just looked at filling boxes and opening boxes at the house really to be honest.  That's all I did last week.  I barely hit a shot.
You know, they were three big weeks, but it was also a big week for me to try to finally get in this house.  The more I could get done of that, the more I could relax my brain to actually going out there and playing some good golf.
It's no surprise to me to be fresh in the mind this week; to know that I'm finally in the house and I'm relaxed and the family are happy, and all of the hassle and stress is over, and I can just go out and play golf.  And I have felt relaxed this week.

Q.¬† You said you feel like you're back to normal, just in terms of‑‑ if you can expand on that in terms of your swing, your putting, where you thought you were missing things earlier in the year?
IAN POULTER:  I felt myself on the golf course but being able to turn off and on, concentration levels, not thinking about anything else apart from golf, which is always handy, I do fill my brain full of lots of funny things at times.  It's nice when that's empty and I can do what it is I love to do, and that's go out there and play golf.  It's a little demanding out there, and I played very well.

Q.¬† In terms of the swing‑‑
IAN POULTER:  I haven't done anything.  To be honest, Lake Nona last week, they punched all the greens and they covered them in sand, so I didn't hit a putt.  I didn't hit one putt to be honest with you.  I played Isleworth on Saturday, and that's the only round of golf I played last week.  I got here on Tuesday and holed a few putts in practice and felt good.

Q.  Was there anything in particular about the putting stroke that felt good today or was it the relaxation you talked about?
IAN POULTER:¬† If I briefly go through the round of golf, I mean, it was a 2‑putt birdie on 2; it was a one‑millimeter putt on 4; 4‑foot putt on 9; 7‑foot putt on 10.¬† 11 was four, five feet, max.¬† 12 was 18 feet.¬† So that was probably the only putt would I have actually said I really, really holed.
17 was eight feet and 16 was four feet.¬† So you know, they kind of were puts you would expect to hole.¬† I just hit it good, and as good as the greens are this week‑‑ they are the best I've ever seen them; and as quick as you are, you barely have to get it started on your line and it should find the hole.

Q.  When you go on a run like that with the putter, does the game just feel totally easy?  Do you have to be told that you had all those single putts?
IAN POULTER:¬† I didn't realize.¬† I hit a lot of good shots and then missed a couple of the greens just by a tiny bit, so you would expect to get those up‑and‑down.
But I had no idea that the run was nine single putts in a row.¬† But yeah, I mean, once you start holing a few putts, and obviously a nice 18‑footer and a few nice 6‑footers; six‑foot seems to be my range.¬† My stats have always been good from there.¬† So if I just miss a green, hopefully I have a chance to hit it inside four or five feet, and on these greens, as good as they are, you should expect to hole them.
It was certainly nice to roll a few in.

Q.  To play so well, again on another slow day, how the heck do you keep the concentration levels to that standard?
IAN POULTER:  I think it's pretty easy to be honest.  It's a tough golf course, so you have to concentrate.  It's not like you've got any tee shot or any second shot or even a putt that you can kind of let your mind wander.
So you have to switch on and off around this golf course.

Q.  So you hit it close obviously; could you go through a few of the iron shots that you had in and where would you rank your iron play as far as overall?
IAN POULTER:  Iron play was as good as it's been for a long time.  As I said, a sand iron on 4 to a couple of millimeters.
Even from the first hole, I hit a wedge to ten foot; missed.
2, I hit 4‑iron to 30 feet and 2‑putt, birdie.
Hit a lovely 7‑iron on to the next to 25 feet.
5th hole, hit 9‑iron to about 12 feet ‑‑ missed out 5.¬† Hit it to probably 18 feet on 5.
Missed the green on 7.
8, hit a lovely 3‑iron to about 12 feet on the par3.
9, hit it to four feet.
10, hit it to seven, eight feet.
11, was a good bunker shot, basically, to about four feet from the front bunker.
And then hit sand iron out of the left rough to 18 feet.
Missed the green on 13; 14, missed the green just long, holed a long putt.
15, missed the green left and chipped it stiff.
Hit a good bunker shot on 16 and hit 9‑iron to eight feet on 17.
It was pretty good.

Q.  This is a course you obviously feel comfortable on and have had success on; a long way to go, but is it a tournament you feel like maybe you should have won or would be likely to win, given the way it sets up for you?
IAN POULTER:¬† I think I learned‑‑ kind of come up against Mr.Stenson in great form on Sunday.¬† I mean, I felt the number was good enough that I shot on Sunday, but obviously came up a few short of Henrik's an incredible round of golf.
It is a good golf course.  I do like tough golf courses.  I generally play them well; whether it focuses my mind a bit more, I don't know.  But I do like this golf course.  It is a proper test of golf.
I'm excited to see what happens over the weekend.

Q.  You seem to have moved quite a lot down the years, and I seem to have heard you say that you're dealing with builders or packing or unpacking; are you a moving freak, and is this the last time you want to move for a long, long time?
IAN POULTER:  I'm not a moving freak.  I just like nice things.  So I guess, you know, you upgrade things as you go along.  So I guess I've had a few upgrades over the years.  But this one being a big one and being a stressful one; two years and nine months is abnormally long to build a house.
Yeah, hopefully that kind of keeps me settled for a few more years (smiling).

Q.  Just curious, birdies on the 5s are important in every tournament, but just curious if on this course, if it's even more important to take advantage?
IAN POULTER:¬† I think it's very important, and they are good par 5s.¬† I mean, you know, the second hole, you have to get away to a good tee shot, and as soon as you do that, I mean, it is a very tricky tee shot.¬† You try to move it 15 yards right‑to‑left in the air, and a lot of guys hit 3‑wood off that tee.¬† I chose to hit driver.¬† I like hitting a right‑to‑left shot.
Once you're in that position, you're only going in with 5‑iron, so you should be able to take advantage.
I mean, obviously 9 is a very tricky par 5, but it's a hole that I like to put it in position and lay up.  I think most guys generally do that.  Again, if you can hit a decent wedge shot on 9 and take advantage, that's great.
And 12, again, if you get a good tee shot away, it kind of gives you know option to lay up.  You have to have a go.  So it puts you under a little bit of pressure to hit a good second shot on 12, and it's kind of exactly the same on 16.  So it's all about getting away off the tee and putting yourself in position to take advantage of the 5s.
This golf course does show decent scores when players play the par 5s very well.

Q.¬† Based on the fact that you did make so‑‑ your string of putts was fabulous, and it was intimated that you had to hit the greens in regulation; what's more important, to make the putts or hit the greens in regulation?
IAN POULTER:  Well, it sounds silly, but it's both.  I mean, it's bermudagrass.  The ball sits down if you miss the greens.  So, one, yeah, do you have to put yourself in position to hold the putts.
But the surface this week is the best I've ever seen it.  You know, if you've got your eye in on these greens and you do start it online, you should expect a ball certainly from 20 feet and in to go in.  I mean, they are absolutely perfect.

Q.¬† How unusual is it for you to have a week where you don't play any golf at all?¬† Do you tend to‑‑
IAN POULTER:  I don't play golf when I'm at home.  Never, to be honest.  The day I played on Saturday was actually a charity day, which I played.  Had I not of had that, I wouldn't have played on Saturday.
I do practice.  I practice a lot.  But I get more out of practicing.  I can condense it, hit more balls in a practice session than I do with four, four and a half hours on the golf course.  I mean, you're hitting 40 shots and 30 putts, or hopefully 20.  But you can do a lot more work on the practice ground than you can going out there to play golf.

Q.  Is having a week like that completely away from the game and getting a result like today, is that something you might replicate?
IAN POULTER:¬† It wasn't totally away from the game.¬† I still hit balls on the range.¬† Just I couldn't‑‑ I guess I couldn't do the short game practice, and obviously putting with the greens punched the way they were.
So it's about me getting relaxed, and when I'm fresh and ready to play golf and relaxed in my mind, then you know, I can go out there and play good golf.

Q.  Two years, nine months; were there hangups in the construction process?
IAN POULTER:  (Looking down at wrist, checking watch).  It's 20 past 2:00.  How long you got?
It's brutal.  I could write a book.  Yeah, it was brutal from start to finish.  There were a lot of interesting hiccups along the way, but I'm glad to say they are all behind me, and we are going to spend that first night in there on Sunday.
So there's a couple more boxes to unbox, but, you know what, it's an enjoyable week to be able to know that there's no more agro, there's no more subcontractors, thank God, and I can enjoy the wonderful house we've built.

Q.  What was the most brutal the hiccup you had?
IAN POULTER:  I'm not going into it, seriously.  I don't even want to start that one.

Q.  The question must be asked, it's a $1.7 million check for the winner; if you win, will you buy another house?
IAN POULTER:  No.  I'll buy another car, for sure, no problem.

Q.  I wanted to ask you, based on the question a minute ago, do you love golf or do you love the competition of golf?  Have you taken a boys trip just to go play trip with the guys?
IAN POULTER:  Have I?  No.  Do I?  No.  Do I love the game of golf?  Yes.  Do I love the competition aspect of it?  Yeah, probably even more so.  I love the fight.  I love the adrenaline.  I love being in contention.  And that's what I love the most.

Q.  What car would you buy?
IAN POULTER:  Ferrari Enzo.  Been looking for one of them for a while.  I think it will be a nice addition to the stable (chuckling).  A nice horse.

Q.  Have you got room in the stable?
IAN POULTER:  I haven't got room, they are all full up, but I'll find room, trust me.  A couple of buggies will go I think.
DOUG MILNE:  Ian, congratulations and thanks for your time.

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