By ANNA JOHNSON
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Ian Poulter said Thursday a British golf magazine took his words out of context when it quoted him as saying when he reached his potential he would be the only one capable of challenging Tiger Woods.
The interview with Poulter, in the March edition of Golf World U.K., created a buzz at the Dubai Desert Classic, where Woods opened with a 7-under 65 to build a two-shot lead. Several British newspapers carried excerpts from the interview in Thursday’s editions.
Woods, the No. 1 player in the world with 13 majors, is coming off an eight-shot victory at the Buick Invitational in San Diego. Poulter is at No. 22 with seven career victories, the last one in 2006.
“The trouble is I don’t rate anyone else,” Poulter was quoted in the magazine. “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.”
Poulter, a flamboyant 32-year-old Englishman, appears nude in the magazine behind a strategically placed golf bag.
“The whole answer to the question has been taken out of context,” Poulter said after opening with a 70 in Dubai.
The magazine’s editor, Chris Jones, said Poulter’s manager was pleased with the interview and suggested that people read the entire article.
“Ian’s manager is happy with the interview as it appeared in the March issue of Golf World magazine, where Ian’s comments can be seen in the full context they were intended. People should read the full interview, rather than the juicy soundbites picked up by the British media,” Jones said in an e-mail statement.
Poulter, who said he had not seen a copy of the full article, said Woods was so far ahead of everyone else in the rankings that the real battle was to become No. 2.
“If people do play well over a period of two years, you can get to No. 2. You can’t reach Tiger,” Poulter said. “It would be a dream to see Tiger Woods and then me in the world rankings as you look down. What’s wrong with that? Is it being rude? Is it being disrespectful to everybody else? I don’t think so.
“Tiger Woods is so far in front, and people want to get as close as they possibly can to that.”
Poulter, who is known for his more eccentric hair styles and clothing in the conservative golf world, has only one top 10 in a major and has not won on the U.S. tour. He played in one Ryder Cup, winning one point in two matches.
Golf World U.K. is not affiliated with the U.S.-based weekly Golf World, which is published by Golf Digest Companies.
Poulter said the interview took place three months ago. He said he had not heard from the magazine since.
But he couldn’t keep the controversy out of his mind Thursday.
“I’m not going to lie. I’m going to tell you, I’ve been thinking it the whole way around the golf course,” Poulter said.