Although he might be best known for his loud trousers and ‘difficult’ haircuts, Ian Poulter is now a serious contender when it comes to golf’s most prestigious tournaments - starting with the Masters today. Here the 33-year-old world number 34 talks to Esquire online about Augusta National, golf fashion and football.
Last year you had a hole in one on the 16th hole during the US Masters. That must have been like scoring the winning goal for Arsenal in the Champions League final…
It was an incredible buzz. What an adrenaline rush that was. It lasted for 10 minutes. A hole in one is great but you want to shoot a decent round and I was in position after three rounds to have a go at trying to win the tournament. Unfortunately, I didn’t perform on the Sunday. There were certain things that didn’t go the way I’d have liked and there are things that I’ve learned from that experience. I guess I took those lessons into The Open at Royal Birkdale: be a little more patient, wait your turn, play safe if need be. It doesn’t always have to be all guns blazing and that worked for me at The Open.
Did you get anything special for your hole in one last year?
Yes, I got a crystal bowl. It’s sitting in my trophy cabinet at home.
Is Augusta a course that suits you?
I’ve played it well in the past and I’ve had a number of very good rounds of golf at Augusta. I’m normally very steady when I play there. It’s a course that I love. It’s a great challenge. It’s hard and you have to play the right shots at the right time, but it’s that challenge that I love about it. I’m really excited about going back, especially after having three good rounds there last year.
You’ve had a lot of strong finishes at the majors without ever really getting close to winning…
I’ve had a lot of top-15 finishes in the majors and have only missed a few cuts in all the ones I’ve played. Even though some of the results weren’t as high as I’d liked them to be I do feel that I am cut out to play in the biggest golf tournaments. I guess it’s being able to get the adrenaline rush going early enough. It’s easy to go flat when you’re out on the golf course very quickly and then not have that buzz, that intensity, to kick on. It’s easy to stay a bit too mellow.
If we were to have a punt on you in 2009, which of the majors do you most fancy yourself to win?
I don’t know. I feel comfortable in all of them. I love them all but I think the Masters would be quite a cool one to win.
You’ve got to think about what ensemble will look good with the Green Jacket, so what would you wear on the final day if you are in contention?
Anything goes with that Green Jacket, trust me. Nobody is going to diss you for putting that jacket on. That is one of the nicest looking jackets ever made.
Your clothing range, Ian Poulter Designs, is now is 20 different countries. Are we right in thinking you used to sketch designs out while you were in hotel rooms?
I used to sketch stuff out and pull ideas from wherever I was playing golf. The logo was designed on some hotel headed notepaper in New Orleans. From those initial sketches that I’d made, the company started to take shape and it’s grown very quickly. We’ve got two great designers and a team of 15. It’s getting big, it’s growing very quickly and it’s exciting. I like to get away from golf anyway so it’s nice to come up with some new designs and think about how to grow the brand.
Golf clothing has been dreadful over the years - banana yellow slacks and horrific diamond cut sweaters…
Everybody has been addressing this problem and the game’s image has changed enormously in the last five years. It’s a more fashionable sport these days. There are all sorts of different people playing the game now, from musicians to artists to actors and sportsmen. It’s a fashionable game and that’s brilliant. It’s nice to be able to have a sport that is prepared to change and grow, and golf is growing.
Thanks for your time, good luck at Augusta and, for what it’s worth, we think you’ve got more chance of winning the Masters than your football team has of winning anything this year.
Check out Ian Poulter’s new golf range at www.ianpoulterdesign.com