Continued from page 2

“If you look at people’s signatures through the years, some you can read, and most you can’t,” Poulter said. “And if you make something a little different, identifiable with the name, everybody knows what signature it is. Everyone knows my autograph.”

It wasn’t always that way, of course. He started his career signing his full name _ Ian James Poulter _ until he won his first European Tour event.

“When you’ve just won the Italian Open and you’re asked to sign a couple of hundred things, we need to think this out,” Poulter said with a grin. “That winter I changed it to `IJ Poulter’ with the green. But I don’t think everybody sees signing the same way. Some guys see it as a pain. … Some guys quite enjoy it. I quite enjoy doing it.”

And then there’s John Daly, who has three autographs _ one for kids, another if he detects the fan wants to sell it, and third for personal items.

“It’s totally different on legal stuff,” he said. “I’ll do `John P. Daly.’ For autographs I know they’re going to sell, I scribble. It’s the ugliest signature you’ll ever see, and they can’t sell those.

“But for kids,” Daly said, stopping to sign for a young boy at Innisbrook, “that was a beautiful signature.”

Harrington said it can get annoying to see the fans looking to make money from an autograph, especially when they’re pushing kids out of the way to get it. But as he finished walking 100 yards along the fence, signing items and saying, “You’re welcome” to everyone who thanked him, he still saw it as a privilege.

“It’s all worthwhile when there’s one kid who genuinely wants your autograph,” he said. “He’s not there to get 10 autographs, 20 autographs. And when you sign that one, you say, `I signed a thousand autographs just to get to that one, where he’s actually going to go home and keep that autograph.’ It’s not going to be, `Look, I got 20 autographs.’ It’s going to be, `I got Padraig Harrington’s autograph.’

“Then it’s worth it,” he said. “That’s the pleasure you get.”