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An Interview with Ian Poulter


September 15, 2004

JULIUS MASON: Ian Poulter, ladies and gentlemen, competing in first Ryder Cup.

Some opening thoughts maybe on your practice round today and a little bit of Q&A.

IAN POULTER: Okay. Yeah. Another good day weather-wise, which is always good. The crowds were fantastic out there. That makes it very nice to go out there and warm-up for the Ryder Cup. And we had some good fun on the golf course and we had a good look at some of the greens out there. Because that's what's going to be the key this week.

Q. You are known by your peers and by what from what we have seen as a player who doesn't back down. Obviously you charged tremendously just to get on to this team. Can you describe yourself in terms of the fire and what drives you out here?

IAN POULTER: The buzz of winning, I think. The buzz of competing to win. Even if over the last few years, if I haven't been in contention, I may have struggled to really fight to the end.

But now I've come to terms with it. I know how much more important it is to fight all the way to the end. It's never over until it's over. I think I proved that trying to qualify in Germany. So that was very pleasing for me to do that under that pressure and to be here and competing in the Ryder Cup.

Q. Do the outfits this week suit your style and what do you think of them?

IAN POULTER: As I said before, I'm happy to wear any uniform this week. No matter what it is. Since I followed it in '93, I just wanted to wear it with the crest. And whether it be funky pullovers or whether it be nicely-tailored trousers, I really don't mind.

Q. How bad did you get whacked at your house at Lake Nona? I heard it was pretty soundly spanked by that first one.

IAN POULTER: I think it tore through Nona pretty good. I think they lost several hundred trees. My house wasn't built yet, so it didn't do too much damage. It was only at ground level. My property was absolutely fine. But the golf course, yeah, it took quite a big hit and they lost quite a few trees.

Q. Obviously you guys are focused on your game, what you're doing this week. I'm interested, though, what do you make of the American philosophy whereby they don't know who they're playing with until tomorrow at 1:00, 12:00?

IAN POULTER: Not really up on what, how they're preparing, really. We just work in well already. We have had a couple of different changes today of possibly who we could be playing with. I think we're shaping up very nicely.

Q. Bernhard has consulted with you to see who you're comfortable playing with; if his style was more like Hal's, would you be comfortable with that?

IAN POULTER: Yeah, I guess so. Obviously I don't know exactly what he's saying to the guys, so that's different. That's a difficult question to answer. Bernhard's side, you know, I think everybody's happy the way it's all shaping up.

Q. You've talked a little bit about how a little gamesmanship is just part of the competition process of an event like this. I wondered if you could talk a little bit about that and if that's just expected in this kind of competition.

IAN POULTER: I don't think any gamesmanship is going to come into it. Even though I did say it last time. We're going to be doing this professionally. We're going to let our golf clubs do the talking and concentrate on the job at hand. As well as we do do that and stay focused 100%, then hopefully we come out on top.

Q. You talked a few weeks ago that if you didn't make the team, you would have been devastated. Was there any feeling of panic on the last couple ever days of qualifying that you might not make it?

IAN POULTER: No, no, no. No, I was -- I felt pretty comfortable all week that week. Obviously Sunday was a very interesting roller coaster day. I didn't want it to be as up-and-down as that. But maybe I needed to do something that drastic to sort of kick me into gear, I guess, on that Sunday.

So I didn't feel any pressure. I never felt as if I really had to kick it into top gear. So I guess after walking off 10, I felt that I would have to do something now. And I did it.

So hopefully I can play under that pressure Friday, Saturday, Sunday, like I did over the last eight holes in Germany and play the golf I displayed there.

Q. Being a fan and considering the remarkable unbeaten run so far, what do you think are your possibilities ever going through this Ryder Cup you know beaten?

IAN POULTER: As an individual or as a team?

Q. Individual.

IAN POULTER: As an individual. I would love to be top points-scorer this week. That would be a dream. I was top -- joint top-points scorer for the Seve Trophy, and I would like to do the same this week. So it all depends obviously on how many rounds I play, but, yeah, there's no reason why I can't. My game's in shape and I'm feeling pretty confident.

Q. That last nine holes in Germany you referred to, did you know where you stood the whole time, and when you got to 18, did you know exactly what you had to do to get on the team?

IAN POULTER: The difficulty was, I couldn't tell what Paul McGinley was doing because he was just outside the top eight and they were only showing the top eight on the leaderboard. So I could see what Freddie Jacobson was doing; he was like second or third pretty much all the way through the day.

And I knew how much I needed to be in front of those guys or I knew how much they needed to pick up. Paul McGinley needed 18,000 Euros to pass me, and Freddie had to finish third with one other. So as I was going around the course, I was aware that Freddie could go by, but I had no clue what Paul was doing. So Freddie really wasn't the issue; it was Paul. And it did put me under a bit of pressure around that back nine, really. I was a little bit concerned at one stage, but as it unfolded, it worked out just fine.

Q. How important was it for you at that point out there after 10 holes? What did Darren have to say to you?

IAN POULTER: Very important. They were nice words. He didn't have to say them. But he didn't have say them. But it's nice to have those words from such great players and caddies to reassure you that they want you on the side. They know you can perform to the ability of making five birdies in the last eight holes, which was what they said go out there and do. And as they said at the last, I said five, not six. So it was nice that they said something like that after I had made a couple mistakes.

Q. From your pairing today and on the foursomes and four-balls, do you have any feeling of the way Bernhard is thinking about you, and whether he will play you on Friday or in which series?

IAN POULTER: I have got no idea.

Q. Should we believe that?

IAN POULTER: I'm not sure how we're going out tomorrow, as well. I think there might be a couple more changes tomorrow to seem, as well. So I think Bernhard's just trying as many different options as he possibly can. I think he knows who plays well together. And I think he will try to mix it up as well.

So I'll leave that up to Bernhard to choose for tomorrow. As I said, we don't know who is going out tomorrow in what order. So there's one more good day of practice to go yet.

Q. Will he tell you tonight or tomorrow morning?

IAN POULTER: He'll tell us tonight for tomorrow.

Q. Both Paul Casey and Thomas Levet said yesterday that the fact that they're playing the first Ryder Cup on foreign soil in a way is a relief to them as much as playing back home would be a bit overwhelming for a first-timer. Your thoughts as a first-timer?

IAN POULTER: I don't mind whether it was back home or over here. Everyone's as excited to play. I would have loved to have played a couple of years ago on home soil. But if we can take the trophy back on Sunday night, it will make it a very enjoyable 8-hour flight home.

Q. Obviously you've had a couple days out on the course. You're now known to the American crowd. You're no stranger. Just talk a little bit about what your experience has been here this last couple of weeks, and what you've been perceived and the general aura of the place?

IAN POULTER: I think we have all been received pretty well. And it has been nice to go out there and smile and just have fun with the crowd as well. Because that, it definitely helps get you through the week. And it definitely makes it a lot more enjoyable to play that way.

So the crowds so far have been fantastic and taken to us nicely. So hopefully that can be the way it is for the rest of the week, and everybody on both sides can have great fun and everybody can really enjoy it from the outside.

Q. You mentioned the slopes of the greens and all that, and that's been interpreted as a big advantage for the American team. Do you think it's going to be, and are you concerned that it could work out that way?

IAN POULTER: I'm not sure whether the greens solely make it more difficult for Europeans. I mean, we are the underdogs. And distance control is going to be key this week. You do need to put it in the fairway, and guys are really, really going to have to be on their yardages this week; hit it in the right spots. That might be 30 feet away. 30 feet away on some of these greens with some of these pin positions is going to be a great shot. It will leave you a tricky 2-putt, but on some of these holes, par is going to be plenty good enough to win some of these holes.

So you might not see hundreds of birdies out there this week, but you will see some great golf shots and that might be 20, 30 feet away.

JULIUS MASON: Ian Poulter, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you very much.

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