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Poulter on Tiger: "I was misquoted"

Add Ian Poulter’s name to a list of players who either made off-the-record remarks, claim to be misquoted, or simply [photopress:poulter.jpg,full,alignright]should have kept their trap shut while talking about Tiger Woods. Years ago it was Calgary Stephen Ames, who said no one enjoyed playing with Woods, among other things. Those remarks, made to Calgary columnist Bruce Dowbiggin, were apparently part of an off-the-record conversation and Ames has never forgiven the writer for going back on his word. Of course Ames would later make remarks about Woods’ driving prior to a matchplay event, only to lose 9 and 8 to a ramped up Woods.

Then there everyone’s favourite pro, Rory Sabbatini, who made these remarks about Woods last year:

“The funny thing is, after watching him play last Sunday, I think he’s more beatable than ever. I think there’s a few fortuitous occasions out there that really changed the round for him at Wachovia. And realising that gives me even more confidence to go in and play with him on Sunday again.”

We all know how that ended, though Sabbatini has played very well as of late. Still, he wasn’t hanging with Woods on Sunday in San Diego.

The latest player to say they can take on Tiger is Englishman Ian Poulter, who at this point is still better known for his outrageous outfits (Union Jack pants! Pink hair!) than his actual golf.

Golf World UK, in an edition that sports Poulter naked covered by a golf bag, quotes him as saying:

“The trouble is I don’t rate anyone else. Don’t get me wrong, I really respect every professional golfer, but I know I haven’t played to my full potential and when that happens, it will be just me and Tiger.”

and later:

“… the problem is I know I haven’t played to my full potential yet. And, when that happens, it will just be me and Tiger.”

“I can work harder than I am now, and that should help me become a better player. I don’t want to put a limit on how far I can go.”

And his prediction for the year’s first two majors?

Masters: “Put Tiger down for that one”.

U.S. Open: “You can put me down for that one.”

Poulter, who apparently made the remarks in an interview at his home, was scrambling yesterday to put some context on them. That context, it turns out, was that he claims to have been misquoted, though I’d bet a tape recorder was running. At other times Poulter seem to indicate that yes, he did make the comment, but that it was taken out of context:

Had I been quoted verbatim, all those people who have been left thinking I’m a complete idiot would have understood where I was coming from. Instead, my answers were truncated and distorted.

When the magazine asked if I thought I could ever get to No 1, I laughed out loud before replying, ‘No I can’t, really, not while Tiger is playing golf.’ When it came to, “Can you get to No 2?,” I said yeah, I did think that was possible. Lots of players would have said the same.

I went on to say that it would be a dream to see Tiger Woods and then me in the World Rankings.

Is that being disrespectful to the rest? I don’t think so.

As someone who started out in a professional’s shop, I genuinely respect and look up to all the players out here. Not only that, but they are my friends. Why would I want to upset them?”

Interestingly, I didn’t really see the comments as inflammatory, not like Sabattini’s remarks, which were directed specifically at Tiger. I don’t expect him to take a US Open now or likely ever — he’ll be too distracted by designing his latest pair of trousers — but what is wrong with saying you can be No.2 in the world? Seems like something to aspire to if you’re a professional golfer. He’s right — it isn’t disrespectful of anyone. It is simply showing faith in one’s abilities.

Woods showed both a sense of humourand the ability to put Poulter in his place when asked about the comments while playing in Dubai (where he ran away with an early lead, but is struggling today):

One person who is unlikely to forget in a hurry, however, is Tiger Woods, who took time out of his busy schedule to pass comment on Poulter. “So he’s No2 in the world rankings now.”

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

4 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I think people focus on the wrong person, i.e. Tiger Woods.

    The reporters should ask the rest of the players to comment on Poulter’s quote, given that he said he is the only one capable of level with Woods.

  • The world – at least the golf world that is – needs more Rory Sabattini’s. I play golf for many reasons – I watch golf for only one: entertainment. Who can honestly argue that watching Tiger run away with a tournament is great entertainment? Sure, it reaffirms his God-like status in the world of sports, but it’s not very entertaining. And with the ongoing writer’s strike in the US, there ain’t much to look forward to watching other than sports.

    Tiger ratings – and golf in general – are once again on the downslide. I’m sure Finchem and all the studio execs are wondering what happened to all the lunatic Tiger fans that drove up ratings and put millions in their pockets. My guess is that they’ve realized 10 stroke victories – no matter what their historical significance – are simply not worth investing that kind of time in anymore. Frankly, until Tiger tee’s off with the third round lead en route to his 19th major, golf ratings are in serious trouble.

  • I find Poulter refreshingly candid with his appearance and a breath of fresh air in a somewhat puffy, stuffy, holier than everyone else aura of the PGA Tour. When the Europeans kicked the US ass at the last Ryder guess what……they went out and had fun.Poulter among them. Can you see Tiger with his arms around Phil, both of them half pisssed, being interviewed on the Golf Channel a la Clarke and Westwood? No ……..so let’s lighten up and quit putting our hands over our ears whenever anyone uses Woods name in the same sentence as their own. now Sabbatini?…….he’s just a nob whether he dissed Tiger or not.

  • I have to say it seems an easy way to get press these days. Lets say we can play Tiger off the number one spot and that way every magazine, newspaper and website that has anything to do with golf will be talking about it!

    As for misquotation it happens. I sat in on a Lee Westwood interview after he won the Andalucia Open last year and what came out in the press was a very different account of what was actually said, and that was without controversy. The press get things wrong and sensationalize things to entertain readers, its unfortunate but it happens.

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