An Interview With:
GORDON SIMPSON: Okay, Ian, welcome to your first NEC Invitational. You are here now and what are your first impressions of the facility?
IAN POULTER: You know, getting here on Monday, I flew out with Lee and we had a small practice on Monday afternoon. I just thought the practice grounds on the facilities were some of the best I've ever seen. The turf is fantastic. When I first looked at the course yesterday afternoon, it's just -- it's the purest golf course I've ever played.
Q. Purest? What does that mean?
IAN POULTER: The tees are -- the tees are like greens back home. And the greens are just -- they are just running absolutely perfect. It's the nicest, well-manicured golf course I've ever played.
GORDON SIMPSON: Is this the sort of thing you wanted when you set out to be a pro golfer, playing at this type of course and this type of field.
IAN POULTER: This is as good as it gets, playing with the best players on the world. It's just nice to come and be able to play in this tournament.
Q. Any sense of you (inaudible) --
IAN POULTER: I feel quite comfortable. I don't get too nervous in the company of the best players. I just want to go out there and enjoy it like I've always tried to enjoy my golf from when I was a kid.
Q. Why don't you get nervous in the company of the better players?
IAN POULTER: I have no idea. I feel happy and that's that. That's always the where I've wanted to be, and I don't get -- I just don't get overwrought by the other players. I have respect for their game and their ability and what they have done. But, you know, if you want to be there in the future, you can't -- you can't get too nervous and be afraid of anyone.
Q. So how would you describe the anticipation then of possibly playing at The Belfry in what would be an intense --
IAN POULTER: It would be the most exciting challenge yet, I would say. And I would be excited to play, rather than nervous to play.
Q. Have you followed the Ryder Cup in the past?
IAN POULTER: Yeah, I have. Yeah. I was there in '93, sleeping in a tent about three miles away from the course. There was three of us. I was on a guest ticket from another PGA member. There was three of us there. Two of which were members of the PGA, so I had one of their guest tickets and we had every day there. It was fantastic.
Q. What was your main memory of that?
IAN POULTER: Just the atmosphere and the pure adrenaline of the excitement of it all, really. It was just an amazing week, really. And I thought it would be quite nice to feel that feeling for real.
Q. Did you feel at that stage it might come as quickly or the opportunity that it might come as quickly as it has?
IAN POULTER: I had no idea. Obviously, I had set my goals out and I wanted to improve as much as I possibly could. But I don't have think you could look back and put a date on when you would want to achieve something and you just have a gradual procession. I'm quite happy it's gone so quickly.
Q. What is the difference between being nervous and being excited and how it affects your play?
IAN POULTER: I think you can put excited energy into more positive than nervous. I think if you're very nervous, you're tentative and you're always afraid of things. If you're excited, then generally you're more positive and you're more up for what you actually want to do.
GORDON SIMPSON: I take it you've taken close notice of what's happening at the points table at the moment and you're well aware that the other tournament is being played at Glenn Eagles.
IAN POULTER: I know the other guys who just missed out this week are going to be there are going to make up points, which there are quite a few point as available, so I think they will be doing their best. I'm in a more fortunate situation where there's more point as available here, and it's a guaranteed prize, as well. There's a better chance for me to pick up more points than, obviously, those. But I'm not sure exactly how many points I am behind. I haven't had a look, just yet.
Q. Whose position will you look for first, Ian, the leaders or Phillip Price's?
IAN POULTER: I won't be looking at trying to take 10th place. I think if I play four good rounds of golf, then I can move up a lot higher than that and have a comfortable week next week. I don't think just Phillip Price's position is up for grabs; I think there is another one there as well. Ryder Cup has proved some funny things in the past with points and people just missing out on just getting in. So, I think everyone realizes that it's going to be a close thing.
Q. Do you believe that the points system should be based more on merit than money? If we had a system similar to the American PGA, if our system started last year you would be fourth?
IAN POULTER: Obviously, I'd like it that way. (Laughter.) I don't know, it's hard to -- it's hard to change them and I haven't studied how it is all done properly, so I don't normally get into that.
But it would be nice if I was fourth.
Q. Have you spoken to Sam Torrance or has he spoken to you?
IAN POULTER: Not really. Not directly. He's just congratulating me, obviously on my win during the year and for me playing well in Sweden, and that's about as far as it's been.
Q. Do you have any feeling, Ian, that all of this has happened very quickly, or do you have a feeling that, well, this has happened quickly but there's nothing wrong with that?
IAN POULTER: I don't see it as being a problem. It's happened, obviously, for a reason, and my golf has obviously improved to a level where I can compete at this level and I'm quite happy with that, really.
Q. What do you put that improvement down to? Is it a combination of factors?
IAN POULTER: Hard work. And probably believing in myself, I would say. You've got to have a bit of self-belief, otherwise, you can't perform at the level you're going to set yourself.
Q. What's the best you've ever played?
IAN POULTER: The best I've ever played? The best I've ever played could possibly be the second round in the Open last year at St. Andrews. That was a major thing, for me to qualify for the tournament, and then after finishing out at ten o'clock on Thursday evening, it was -- unfortunately I dropped a few shots coming back in and then I pretty much just played a faultless round of golf to make the cut, which is probably one of the best ball-striking round of golf I've ever played on a tough golf course.
Q. We can look it up was, but do you remember what the score was?
IAN POULTER: I think I shot 3-under. Not sure. But just -- yeah, I think just that of memory, it was just the best. The best golf I've probably played.
Q. What are your thoughts on this course and are you encouraged by the fact that Phillip played it for the first time last year and finished second -- 11 strokes back, but second?
IAN POULTER: It's a very challenging golf course. It's very long. Greens are very, very fast. But I think it's probably one of the best courses I've ever seen. It would be -- it would be a help to those players who have played it a lot before.
I played it for the first time yesterday and the flags were all pretty much in the middle of the green, so it made it pretty easy to shoot at the flags, and I think when they tuck them away behind traps and on ridges and stuff, you've really got to be careful and you're going to have to know exactly where you need to put the ball to give yourself the easiest putt. I don't think there are many easy putts on the course, but obviously you have to find a way and find the best position to put the ball.
Q. What do you do best in your golf game?
IAN POULTER: What do I do best? Good question. I'd like to say use my brain. I think I'll be using it all week, especially around here.
Q. Having had a brief taste of golf on this side of the Atlantic, is it something you would like to have a bit more often in the future?
IAN POULTER: Possibly. I think I've got to concentrate on my golf in Europe first and make the best of that and try and improve my World Ranking position. If I do that, then it will allow me to play a few more tournaments over here, obviously, the Majors and the World Golf Championships events. That might open up some invitations, as well, and obviously it's a fantastic experience to come and play over on this side. I think it's a good challenge and I think the golf courses are great.
GORDON SIMPSON: Ian, enjoy your debut here.