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Ian Poulter 2010 Q&A from the AIR Magazine vaults

Ian Poulter

After having turned pro nearly 15 years ago at the young age of 19, Ian Poulter has been a prominent name on the international golf scene for roughly a decade.

Often ranked among the top ten golfers in the world, Poulter has famously remarked that there will come a time when the number one spot will come down to him and Tiger Woods. Recent wins show that his hard work is paying off, and this assessment may be much more than just wishful thinking. After helping the European team claim victory at the last Ryder Cup, Poulter talked with Air about his recent success, his future goals, and his love of fashion and Japan.

Competing for the Ryder Cup

Ian Poulter

Air:  Congratulations on an enthralling Ryder cup victory last October. You have a very impressive record with the Cup—what does the competition mean to you as an individual and as part of a team?
Poulter: It means the world to me to take part in the Ryder Cup. I made it my goal in 1993 when I went to The Belfry to watch it live and I was totally hooked. The passion and excitement that was created was an amazing feeling, and I wanted to be inside the ropes rather than outside. It’s awesome to be part of a team, as that really doesn’t happen for most of the season. It’s a great feeling!

Air: There has been a lot of talk in the media of how the Ryder Cup is more important to the Europeans than it is the Americans. Do you think that is true?
Poulter: No, I think the Ryder Cup means a lot to both sides, and that’s why you see so much passion.

Air: Do you think the European team had better synergy—particularly in the fourball pairings—than the American team did?
Poulter: We knew we had to perform, as the scores were not looking too good, so the team managed to pull off a great turnaround, which I think was crucial to Europe winning back the Ryder Cup.

Air: What did you and your teammates do to celebrate your victory?
Poulter: The after party in Wales was awesome. It was a great feeling to celebrate with the team members and captains. Then we went to the American team’s room to have a drink with them. It is always really nice to able to do that, as at the end of the day we all get along week in and week out.

Building a Brand

Ian Poulter

Air: In addition to being a player, you are also a designer with your own line of golf wear. How did you get started with IJP Design?
Poulter: Ever since I was a kid, I have always been fashion conscious, and what I wear on the course has always been important to me because I like to look good. What you wear very much affects how you play, and I live by the philosophy of “look good, play great.”
I struggled to find the right clothes that satisfied both these needs, so I decided to take the mat- ter into my own hands and design clothes that are both practical and stylish, clothes that I could adjust to suit how I play and how I like to look. And just like that, IJP Design was born!
IJP Design is all about fusing fashion with functionality, and I’m really pleased with the designs we’re bringing out each collection. As of the end of last year we’re stocked in 35 countries, and the vision is to become one of the world’s leading golf and lifestyle brands.

Air: How hands-on are you with the design of the clothes?
Poulter: At the start I was very much involved in the designs, the cuts, the tartan weave (which is registered with the Scottish Tartan Authority), and I even designed the logo myself. But now I’ve got my amazing team behind me who know exactly what I like, so they pretty much get on with it. I’ll phone up Lucia, my head designer, and tell her about new ideas I’ve had, how the clothes performed in the heat, cold, wet, or whatever, and we’ll make changes here and there, but Lucia and her team do the main legwork.
Things are going well for me on the course at the moment and I realize that, whilst I enjoy being Ian Poulter the businessman, I have to concentrate on my golf first and foremost at the moment.

Air: Are any other pro golfers wearing your clothes?
Poulter: We’ve got some great ambassadors, such as Gary Boyd, James Dunkley, the Head sisters, Steve Lewton, David Johnson and Julian Trudeau. There are some great guys wearing IJP out there. I like to send my mates stuff so they can wear it on and off the course too. People like DJ Spoony, Vernon Kay, Kenny Logan, Tim Lovejoy, and I think Dougray Scott has an IJP cap.

Ian Poulter

Air: In 2007 you won the Dunlop Pheonix Tournament in Japan, and since then you’ve been back a few times to play and appear on television. Do you like coming to Japan?
Poulter: I love Japan. It’s a fantastic place to play and the people are very friendly and welcoming. Also thecuisine is one of my favorites! So whenever I get a chance to play I try to fit it into my schedule.

Air: What do you think of Japanese golf courses?
Poulter: I think the courses in Japan are good and kept in very good condition. The greens are always fast,  so I love that.

Air: Aside from golf, what do you like to do while you’re here?
Poulter: As I mentioned, I love the cuisine, so eating the local food for me is always great to do. Also I like the shopping, as I like fashion and I think the Japanese have great taste in clothes.

Air: There is a new generation of Japanese golfers coming through onto the international scene. You have met, for example, Ryo Ishikawa—what did you think of Japan’s bashful golfing prince?
Poulter: I have met Ryo many times and played with him. I think he is a very big talent and will be around the top 50 in the world for a long time to come. He always looks good on the course and plays the game of golf in a great manner.

Air: Ryo has also been compared to yourself in terms of fashion style. Do you think he could be a possible brand ambassador for IJP Design?
Poulter: I would love to have Ryo as an IJP Design brand ambassador, but he obviously has his contracts in place. He is a perfect fit for the IJP brand.

Air: Finally, there was a lot of talk after your contro- versial “just Tiger and me” comment. Was that completely taken out of context, and do you still feel you can reach the world number one spot?
Poulter: I feel if I continue to work hard at the game of golf, anything is possible, so I will never rule it out.

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