Accenture Match Play interview: Ian Poulter

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February 23, 2013

MORE INTERVIEWS: WGC-Accenture Match Play transcript archive

MICHAEL GIBBONS: Ian, congratulations again. Thanks for joining us. Just give us your take on a pretty special performance.

IAN POULTER: Yeah, it was pretty good. Steve is always a tough person to beat, and he was going to play some good golf today. That's exactly what he did. I managed to keep my nose in front, I guess, with a typical match play swing on the par‑3 third hole. It looks like Steve is going to be going up right there, and I hole, he misses. And from then on I sort of took over and got myself in front.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: Talk us through that putt. It was pretty special, on 3.

IAN POULTER: Yeah, it was 40 feet, left to right, right to left, right to left again, hopefully slowing down on the ridge, taking a left‑hand turn, down the slope and then chucking a little left to right at the end to drop it. It was really nice. (Laughter.)

Q. Can you just go over what was going on on the last green?

IAN POULTER: There was a couple of guys there that probably had one too many to drink. I'm kind of looking over my chip shot and some guy shouts out behind me, "Pick it up," and Steve picked his ball up. As I turned to look at the guy who shouted, Steve had picked his ball up. I think it was close enough anyway, but it's just a bit of a ‑‑ for a split second it was a little off‑putting, and I guess I had to hole a 12‑footer to finish the match.

Q. When Steve finishes the morning match the way he did with the big dramatic putt, did you see that when you were getting ready?

IAN POULTER: I saw it.

Q. Are you thinking, oh, no, he's got momentum or anything like that, or does it not translate from one match to the other?

IAN POULTER: It doesn't really translate to be honest. Steve is a great putter. That's exactly what he's renowned for. He strikes it very solid, he's very steady, but he putts unbelievably well. I knew that going into the afternoon round. I didn't have to see a 30‑foot putt by Steve to know that he's going to be holing a few putts out there. He just does it. I knew I had to bring my game this afternoon to be able to match up against Steve.

When I did hit a couple of shots and short‑sided myself, I managed to get myself out of trouble. I holed a lovely chip shot from the right of the 5th green, 6th green. But I hit a couple of great bunker shots today, which definitely helped.

Q. In Ryder Cup play of course you're playing for Europe and your teammates and the European Tour. Does any of that carry over at all to this or is it really just playing for yourself?

IAN POULTER: I'm playing for myself this week. I really enjoy the fun of match play. As good as my record is in Ryder Cup, it doesn't ‑‑ in some way it doesn't translate into playing just for yourself. But my record in match play is very, very good, and I'm just very comfortable going toe to toe with somebody.

Q. Your eyes don't seem to bug out as much ‑‑

IAN POULTER: I had my glasses on. (Laughter.)

Q. Your intensity level, similar?

IAN POULTER: It's there. It's there. Definitely, it's there.

Q. How do you compare the two?

IAN POULTER: You can't compare it. It's very difficult. In Ryder Cup you've got 40, 50,000 fans, and here you haven't quite got that many fans. So you can't ‑‑ you're not feeding off the crowd, you're just trying to do it yourself. You can't get as much adrenaline going as you can in the Ryder Cup, but yet there's still intense moments out there on the golf course to switch your brain on.

Q. Your record is 19‑3‑2 over the last four years. Does that surprise you?

IAN POULTER: Does it surprise me? I don't know if it surprises me. I'm pretty proud of it. Does it surprise me? I love match play.

Q. You touched on this earlier, but taking a six‑week break and then coming in and playing so well, surprising or just ‑‑ are you just ready to go?

IAN POULTER: Not surprising. Steve took six weeks off, as well. You know, he's a part‑timer now. I guess I was glad to beat the part‑timer.

You know, I couldn't be any more ready to play golf. I mean, albeit I never played a round of golf for the last four weeks of my six weeks off, I didn't play one round, I didn't play one hole, so I came here very, very well practiced. My shot making on the range, like I always do, I go back to my pro shop days. I didn't have time to play golf. I had time to practice, and that's what I do when I have time off. I go to the range, I work on all my shots, I work on my short game, I work on my bunker play, my putting. I've done a lot of work because I put new irons in the game, new utility, new driver and changed shafts, so I had a lot of range work to do, so I've done that. And it's transferred from the range to the golf course this week. I wasn't really afraid of hitting shots on the golf course, it was a case of, yes, I have had six weeks off and I just need to get that buzz going.

Q. Two matches today, two more tomorrow. How physically and/or mentally challenging will tomorrow be?

IAN POULTER: Well, I've had six weeks in the gym so I'm feeling all right right now. I feel really good. Yes, it's going to be ‑‑ it will be more mentally tiring than anything else over the next couple of rounds, so hopefully I can pull on what I've done in the last six weeks, not just in the gym but on the range, and go out there and be really strong tomorrow.

Q. Can you draw any comparisons at all with 2010 in terms of form or just overall vibe?

IAN POULTER: I feel as good. I feel a better player today than what I was in 2010. I feel more equipped than what I was in 2010. I feel like I'm rolling the ball as good as I was certainly in 2010, and my short game ‑‑ I mean, in 2010 it was awesome. And it's been pretty good the last few days.

Yet there are a lot of similarities. My green reading this week has been very, very good. Yeah, I mean, there's a few similarities there.

Q. Just curious, when you first got here, did you like this golf course from the start, or have you just kind of grown into it?

IAN POULTER: I kind of liked La Costa when I first kind of played it, but then it kind of washed itself out year after year after year, so we've gone from the paddy field to the dry field up here. It doesn't matter to me; it's match play. Provided the greens are good, you can go and play anywhere, and that's exactly what we have here. It's not just the greens, the fairways are in great shape, and it's an interesting course. Visually on TV, I guess, it looks great.

Q. In the same way that you played to targets in a match, do you have your eye ‑‑ now that you're not playing, do you have your eye on Sunday afternoon? Are you holding that vision at all?

IAN POULTER: Well, I have got no idea who I could possibly be playing. I mean, I don't care. It doesn't matter. Whoever I play, I have to play. You have to beat the best to win this golf tournament, and that's what I want to do.

Q. My question really is are you imagining yourself standing there getting the Cup and ‑‑

IAN POULTER: I imagine myself winning every week. Unfortunately it doesn't happen as often as I would like, but I imagine myself at the start of the week holding the trophy, yes.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: Ian, thanks a lot. 

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