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November 21, 2012

Ian Poulter


MICHAEL GIBBONS:  Good morning, everyone.  Good morning, Ian.  Welcome to the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.  Glad to be back in Dubai?
IAN POULTER:  Always nice to be back in Dubai.  Yeah, I'm looking forward to this week.  I guess I'm in some pretty good form, so feeling like we can end the year on a very high note and move further up in the World Rankings which would be very pleasing.
I haven't looked at where I would move to if I won this week in terms of The Race to Dubai.  Obviously that's been locked up by Rory, but it would definitely move me forward which would be very pleasing.  So, yeah, looking forward to getting going.
MICHAEL GIBBONS:  Just talk a little bit more about your form, obviously last week, and a great result in Mission Hills, winning another WGC win, been an exceptional second half of the year.
IAN POULTER:  It's been great, since September really, I think my golf's been an extension of The Ryder Cup since, as you said, fourth at the BMW which was very nice, and then HSBC was a great win.  A little disappointing not to kind of finish the job off last week but Scotty played very nice on Sunday to take that title.
So 4, 1 and 2 in the last three tournaments is always nice.  Whenever you keep finishing in the top 5, you're playing pretty good golf.

Q.  Is 4,1 and 2 post‑Ryder Cup euphoria, or what?
IAN POULTER:  It's the kind of golf I would have expected to play straight after The Ryder Cup to be honest with you.
As well as I played in The Ryder Cup, you know, it would have been a disappointment had I not of contended pretty soon afterwards, if I look at it.  I've practised the same as what I practised before The Ryder Cup, so I feel fresh and ready to go.  I would expect to be in the hunt certainly after The Ryder Cup.
I mean, it was an amazing week, and a week that I'm going to obviously kind of keep with me for a long time.  It just shows what kind of golf can be played when I focus my mind.  I'm going to work hard inside my little head to focus as well as I do when I play Ryder Cup.

Q.  So you think, as everybody says, that it should have given you a boost; it should enable you to do what everybody else says you ought to be able to do; if you can produce it in a team event, you can produce it in an individual event, as well?
IAN POULTER:  Well, I obviously can produce it and it is in me.  It comes out at Ryder Cup.  So why shouldn't I be able to produce that week‑in, week‑out.  I guess I have done the last three weeks.  We just have to see how long we can keep doing that for.
When you look at the best players in the world, they are doing it week‑in, week‑out.  So there's no reason why I shouldn't sit among those guys that do it week‑in, week‑out.

Q.  Has a switched been flipped in that regard as far as you're concerned?  Because you always struggled before with The Ryder Cup to replicate it afterwards; do you think your approach, you can somehow get that right now?
IAN POULTER:  I hope so.  Definitely the last three weeks has definitely proved that my mind‑set can be right going into these tournaments.
And you know, not to say I ever give up on tournaments if it's not going right, but you know, the level of adrenaline and the focus does taper off sometimes when you're not playing as well as you should.
But yet if you keep that concentration level up and really focus your mind and not worry about what's going on and where you are in the field, and just execute the right shots at the right time that you've worked hard to do, then you can produce every single week.
But you have to be fresh and ready to do that.  Obviously playing 52 tournaments in a two‑year schedule, sometimes it's hard to do that when you are, you know, trotting around the world.

Q.  And you said you had a chat with your management, you referenced that in China about working on your mind‑set; can you go into the specifics of that?
IAN POULTER:  I mean, I've worked with Paul for 17 years and I've worked‑‑ James had been with me for 18 months, Paul's son, and we have always talked about it.
It wasn't just after The Ryder Cup and it wasn't just after this Ryder Cup.  We spoke about it in '04 and we spoke about it in every Ryder Cup I've played to find out why I can flick that switch at certain times, and obviously sometimes that switch doesn't go on.
So it wasn't just a conscious effort to talk to them about it straight after this Ryder Cup.  It's been work‑in‑progress.  It was noted.  I brought it up to the pair of them, and we have had a chat to try to work out, you know, the right mind‑set to go into stroke play.  I know I'm dangerous if I have that right frame of mind.

Q.  What are your ambitions for 2013?  Are they changed or increased because of what happened?
IAN POULTER:  Been there, done that one before and said what I'd like to do (laughter).  We're not going down there again.

Q.  Everybody else's ambitions for you have increased, in effect.
IAN POULTER:  You all know that I expect myself to do really well and I have some big ambitions.  I'm not going to tell you how big they are for next year.
But yes, they are going to be pretty big obviously, and I would expect myself to work really hard in the off‑season that I've got and I would expect myself to be able to come out certainly at the start of next year and be able to deliver in certain tournaments.
That's the pressure I'll put on myself at the start of the year, and that's not going to change.  It's never going to change.  I keep looking at my stats and keep looking at areas where I can improve, and there's a number of areas which I can improve on for next year.
But obviously you know, the main goals are all around the majors, and I've played well in three of them this year, three Top‑10s, and I'd like to get a lot closer.
I would think coming down the stretch, I've got a lot of self‑belief in me that can hopefully get me over the line but we'll just have to wait and see.  They are hard to win, as you know.

Q.  Rory was in yesterday and I think he called you big green putting machine‑‑
IAN POULTER:  A big green putting machine.

Q.  When you're on a roll like you were at The Ryder Cup, do you feel like a putting machine?
IAN POULTER:  I feel like I'm never going to miss, if that's what you're asking, whether it be 30 feet or ten feet or six feet.
I mean, the level of‑‑ the concentration level is up, the intensity is up, the pressure is up, and when I've been in that situation, I've managed to hole some seriously key putts at the right time.  You know, my mind never wandered away from the fact of being able to hole those putts.  There was no ifs or second‑guesses.  It was:  That's the line and I need to hit it along that line.

Q.  Is there a feeling that as you're standing over the putt, you're willing the putt to go in, a la, Tiger?
IAN POULTER:  Yeah, with quite a few million other people (laughter).  Yeah, good stroke or bad stroke, I mean, you're willing it in.  The hole is four and a quarter inches wide.  You don't have to hit it perfect.  Yeah, you're willing it in the whole way as it's going towards the hole.  You will it in and you try and hole it.

Q.  Everyone talks obviously about the birdie blitz at The Ryder Cup but can you talk some heart going into next year ‑‑ the front nine at the US PGA, does that prove that you can do it in a big occasion as far as the majors are concerned?
IAN POULTER:  It does.  I've sat down a number of times and James has been doing my stats this year for me.  And I think leading into The Ryder Cup, that's why I would say, a bit of a disappointing year; as well as I had played and not converted any tournament victories.
It was getting frustrating because I had put on stretches of holes like that where I gave myself so many chances and didn't convert them.  I would convert a few of them; I would make five or six birdies during a round of golf.  But I was disappointed walking off a round of golf feeling that that wasn't good enough for how well I was playing.
You know, the US PGA, the open stretch that I had there on that front nine was the type of golf that I was playing.  When you are going to hole putts from 15 feet, which you would expect to hole, then you're capable of shooting some very low numbers.  Those low numbers didn't really come through the early part of last year or the middle part but they certainly have come through right now.
So if I can continue the feeling that I've got with the putter right now and keep playing the golf I've got, then I can go and shoot low numbers on the golf course.  And when you are going to do that, you're going to put yourself in position to win golf tournaments week‑in, week‑out.

Q.  When Tiger was in his prime, people expected him to win at least one major every year; are we in the same position with Rory now?
IAN POULTER:  Well, I certainly think he would expect to win at least a major a year the way he certainly has been playing.  You know, two majors at 22 is pretty good.
Obviously, you know, he will look back and expect it to have already been three and I think most people would look at that and have expected it to have been three at the Masters.  The guy is seriously good.  You would expect him to be on the leaderboard come Sunday at most of the majors next year; the type of golf game he's got, I think everybody's impressed.
And you know, he will be -- as I've read, he'll be cutting his schedule back, obviously trying to focus around those majors so he can win as many of them as he possibly can.
But as a player looking at another player, you would expect him to be on the board in most of those.

Q.  And you were talking about, it's hard; did you almost feel back in the Tiger era that it's harder because opportunities are going to be fewer?
IAN POULTER:  Yeah, you know, there are so many good players in the world right now; it's difficult to win one, very, very difficult.  And you know, I'm not trying to compare Rory to Tiger, but those dominant years that he had, they were hard to win.  There was a spell where there was so many majors won by probably three guys, four guys in a good number of years.
When you've got players like Rory, who you would expect to be on the board and there's a number of other guys now, you've got Keegan Bradley and Adam Scott, etc., etc., that you would expect to be there, they are going to be hard to win.

Q.  Justin's progress to make it four U.K. players in the world's Top‑5, did that bring out the competitor in you, the friendly rival, your recent run?  Did that play any part in it?
IAN POULTER:  I don't think so.  I mean, it always spurs you on when you're close to people who are a lot higher up in the World Rankings than you.
I would say I'm very close to a lot of guys and they have been playing a lot better golf than what I have of late.  So I mean, I think it spurs me on because it tells me that I'm capable of playing some better golf than what I have produced.  But hopefully that's changed and I'm in a position right now where I can just kick on from this position.
You know, there's a lot of World Ranking points on offer this week, and if I win this week, I'm going to move nicely up the list.

Q.  You mentioned you need to make improvements, what do you need to improve to get in the mix?
IAN POULTER:  I would like to drive it a bit further than I do.  I think my mid‑iron play could improve a little bit.  And my scrambling has been very good this year.  I think I'm up there on the statistics in terms of scrambling.
But I would expect myself to putt like I've been putting the last three weeks, and that makes a huge difference.  Look at Luke Donald, he obviously won last week and you would rate Luke Donald as one of about the putters in the world.  And when you putt consistently well like he has over that 18‑month period, you're going to move right up in the World Rankings.  He's gone back to world No. 2.  He has putted well consistently.  Justin has putted consistently well this year and I think he's 5 in the world.  So you have to hole putts week‑in, week‑out and that makes a huge difference.

Q.  Just a quick question, obviously as someone living in Florida, we have got more European Tour golfers heading there, Colsaerts, Westwood.  Your thoughts on what that could do or is doing to The European Tour?  It's not a new trend but we are seeing more and more of the top players heading there to play in the PGA TOUR.
IAN POULTER:  I think it's been a slow progression for some people to base themselves in the States.  I mean, I done it a good few years ago and so did a number of other guys.  The schedules that we are playing nowadays when we play a global schedule, it involves obviously 15 PGA TOUR events if you're going to keep your PGA TOUR card and minimum of 13 in Europe.  You can do that when you're obviously based in the U.S.
I think it's easy to say that the amount of flying you're going to do will be less if you base yourself in the States and I think that's what the guys are going to do.
Obviously The European Tour schedule at the minute is not very strong at the start of the year and obviously it picks up towards the middle.  It's a tough situation for the Tour to be in, and I really hope that there's a plan to help the Tour to get more big sponsors, but obviously, we know Asia is so strong right now, and they are holding the key to so many big golf tournaments.
Obviously Europe in general as a continent is struggling.  There's not much money and it's very hard to convince sponsors to put big tournaments on.  I don't think that trend is going to change just yet.  But European Tour need to work with the players to work a solution into trying to find new sponsors and we need to look after the right sponsors.  We have got some great sponsors that sponsor a number of golf tournaments, and we need to look after them right now.

Q.  I mean, is it only money, or should the Tour just say, okay, we are going to lose these guys‑‑ just like a baseball analogy, Japanese players going to the Major Leagues.  Maybe the focus should be on developing more young blood and understanding that these guys are going to head to greener pastures.  I mean, living in America, you know baseball‑‑
IAN POULTER:  I've never watched a full game of baseball.  I walk out after about five innings, it bores me tearless (laughter).  You want to sit there for four and a half hours eating hot dogs and a coke?  Come on.  Really?  I'm sorry, I've been there four years and I've never watched a full game.  Sorry.  (Laughter).
I love some of it‑‑ basketball; I've got season tickets at the basketball.  So I mean, you've got to give me a bit of kudos for that.  But I'm sorry, I'm not watching‑‑ that's over in two hours, I can go back home then.  I'm not sitting four and a half hours, three and a half hours, through many sports, unless it's Ryder Cup.  (Laughter).

Q.  So much of top level sport now is about the fine margins.  I was wondering if perhaps sports psychology or seeing a sports psychologist is something you would consider to unleash the inner hulk orthe putting‑‑
IAN POULTER:  Do you honestly think I need a sports psychologist?  (Laughter).  Are you crazy.  Wow.  I think people would pay me a fortune to be a sports psychologist, that's incredible.

Q.  Have you been asked?
IAN POULTER:  No.  But I think as my years roll on and I might not be quite a dominant force, then I certainly would like to help out little Luke Poulter and turn him into a little green monster.

Q.  You talked about how much confidence you have now going down the stretch because of The Ryder Cup and events after that; how much do you think you are now an intimidating factor to other people who might be going down the stretch alongside you in the big events in the majors?
IAN POULTER:  That's a hard question for me to answer.  You have to ask the other guys to be honest with you.  I was a marked man at The Ryder Cup.  They wanted to shut me up.  That was plain and simple.  Everybody knew that and they couldn't do it.
I guess I frustrate certain people in that format, and you know, hopefully I'm going to be in the same situation if I'm coming down the stretch in a major.  You know, I'd like to think that I've got the game and I've got mind‑set if I'm in the position to obviously try and finish one off.
So I don't think my stubbornness is going to go away once I get in that position.

Q.  A slight change of tack.  Would you consider it important for the current Ryder Cup Team to have more of a say or an input in the selection of the captain, the next captain; and if you had a vote, who would your vote be for, please.
IAN POULTER:  I definitely think some of the players should have a say in who gets picked.  What you're asking me is, would I choose Paul or Darren, is that what you're asking me?

Q.  Sort of.  (Laughter).
IAN POULTER:  Well, you know that's obviously going to piss one person off.  You know, it's a very tough question to answer.  They are both great.  I mean, they are both great guys.  They are both very worthy captains.  I get on with both of them exceptionally well.
I believe both of them should be captains.

Q.  Paul has this just one chance, though, hasn't he?
IAN POULTER:  According to some.  I mean, I believe Paul would‑‑ I'll be honest, I believe Paul would do a magnificent job if he was captain, put it this way; and I believe Darren Clarke would do a magnificent job if he was captain.
But I do believe‑‑ I believe Paul should get the job and I believe that Darren should certainly get the job when his time comes up.  So they are both very worthy captains, and we'll have to wait and see what happens.

Q.  Have you ever been on the committee?

Q.  Want to?
IAN POULTER:  Would I want to‑‑ well, I'm obviously opinionated, aren't I.  Some people would like that and not like that.
I'm not sure what the time restraints and how many meetings you'd have to sit on and all that kind of stuff.  I've never been asked really.

Q.  After winning at Mission Hills, you said that you are going to reveal whatyou rewarded yourself with ‑‑
IAN POULTER:  I haven't got it yet.

Q.  And considering what happened in 2010, do you reflect on the incident of the final hole over here, and do you think the tournament owes you one now?
IAN POULTER:  The tournament owes me nothing.  Obviously I made a mistake and dropped my ball on my coin.  You know, so yeah, it certainly doesn't owe me anything.
I like the golf course and I've obviously played it very, very well.  So I would expect myself to be out there in contention this week, is what I would expect to do.  I think it lays out nicely.  I think I have plenty of opportunities to make birdies and obviously good putting form, so you know, hopefully that continues this week and I can get my hands on a nice big trophy.
MICHAEL GIBBONS:  Many thanks, Ian, good luck this week.

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