Ian Poulter exclusive
Ian Poulter's 2012 season is drawing to a close but will forever be remembered for spearheading Europe to an unlikely Ryder Cup victory. Off the back of the season in which he also bagged three top-10 finishes in the Majors, he spoke to Orange about his Ryder Cup heroics, his lack of Major success and Arsenal's demise.
It's been a fair few weeks since the Ryder Cup. Have the memories faded and, if anything, what stands out?
No, not at all. It's all still vivid like it was just yesterday. Everything about it is still very vivid. There's not one moment that stands out, though, it's a bit of everything really from being out on the course to Jose Maria Olazabal's speeches and sharing the win with him, enjoy the celebrations, the whole thing. It really was magical.
I heard someone call you the Ryder Cup Messi. What do you think when you get those sorts of comparisons?
I hadn't heard or read that one to be honest with you. If someone's said that then that's very flattering.
Was there any backlash in the US where you live after crushing their home hopes in the event?
No, not at all, nothing like that. The feedback here has been magnificent since then. I've played here for about nine years and lived here for four years and I've got a lot of American friends out there. People out here thankfully just seemed to appreciate it for the spectacle it was. Actually, I love it when people say it was one of the most memorable sporting experiences. It felt like that to me obviously.
You've managed to follow that success in stroke play events since then. Do you feel a bit invincible at the moment?
No, I just feel the same as ever which is confident on the golf course. I don't think you can ever feel invincible in golf. Not even Tiger Woods at his very best felt like that and he couldn't as he only won 50% of his tournaments or something like that. Of course, I'd like to be invincible - that's what your aspiring to do as a golfer but we all know it's an impossibility. But I want to win every week.
Now you're on a roll, I'm guessing you'd like the season to keep on going.
[He laughs...] Not at all, I'm well and truly ready for the break. It's been a long season and it'll be great to get back home and spend some time at home with the family.
This must go down as the best season of your life.
So far you're probably right. I've had years with more big wins but obviously there's been a title, the Ryder Cup and the Major results were pleasing. But I can't help thinking it could have been better. That's not a big thing as that's what pushes you to get better.
How exactly can you get better?
In everything and that's what I'm looking to do. Everyone knows I'm not the longest driver of the ball so that's an area but that's just one part of the game. There's a lot of other tweaks I want to make to my game.
Would it be fair to say that a Major win next season is the big goal? Is that realistic and where's your best chance?
Most people seem to think it's at Augusta and it's a course where I've always felt pretty comfortable and it's one that suits my game. But I have no idea if it'll be there - it's one of those things you can't predict. I want to win a Major, I don't know when it will happen or if it will happen. I certainly feel good enough to do it, and that's what I'm working towards. I'd love to get one tucked away next year.
The nature/nurture debate's a prevalent one of late. Do you think you were born with your talent or it's come through hard work?
I'm a big believer in it being hard work. I don't think my golfing talent comes from something that it's my genes. I was clearly good at the game but I've worked bloody hard to get where I have. It's been a slog but it's more down to my hard work than anything else which makes it all the more satisfying.
You've upset a few people along the way with some of your comments. Do you have any regrets?
No, I've generally said what I've said for a reason. People know what I'm like. All my best mates are the ones I had before getting anywhere in golf and they've know that I always speak my mind. I know people can love or hate me for it but I make no apologies. That's how I am as a person and I don't think I'm about to change. I've tended to stay true to my word which is important to me.
Who are the people that have inspired you?
Wow, there are too many to mention. There's Muhammad Ali of course - the greatest of all time. But there's people in all sports: Steve Redgrave, Jonny Wilkinson, Usain Bolt, the list goes on and on. I love people who have amazing drive.
You're clearly a competitive guy that likes to win. Has that made supporting Arsenal of late hard?
You could say that - I'm a very frustrated fan. I don't know an Arsenal fan that isn't at the moment. I love the team, the stadium and everything about the team but it's just not happening on the pitch at the moment. I feel the team should be doing better than right now. I get that it's a corporate world and I understand that Arsenal's a business. But we seem so far removed of that Arsenal team not long ago that was winning everything. It's hard when you see rival clubs frittering money away. I love Arsene Wener and I think he can turn things around but the board need to provide him with the money he can spend to take on the likes of Man City and Man Utd. You can't compete with clubs willing to pay £250,000 a week to pay your players.