WOBURN, England (Reuters) - Tournament host Ian Poulter had to overcome a rare attack of the jitters before getting his campaign underway at the $4.55 million British Masters on Thursday.
The golfer known as the 'Postman' for his ability to deliver spectacular performances in the Ryder Cup was as nervous as a kitten over his opening tee shot at Woburn, his home course.
Asked to remember the last occasion he had felt that way on the first tee at a regular tour event, Poulter replied: "It's been a long, long time.
"I always said I struggle with getting up for rounds of golf, it's not that they don't mean anything, but it's a Thursday," he added after registering a three-under-par 68.
"It was good to see lots of faces out there, great crowds, the weather is good, and to get that tingle, the buzz that you really want to get going," said the Englishman.
"Two minutes before teeing off it was like 'right, okay, just an easy three-wood up the middle'. The fairway shrinks a lot and that's good, it makes you focus, it's nice to get that feeling especially on a Thursday."
The British Masters is back on the European Tour schedule for the first time in seven years and Poulter is delighted.
"I'm very proud," he said. "There's a lot of work gone on behind the scenes.
"I love it. You have got 15,000 guys out there that all want you to play well. Friends and family are out there, faces I haven't seen for a while," added the Florida-based professional.
Poulter has 15 international wins to his name but it is three years since he last tasted victory.
The 39-year-old has lots of hosting responsibilities this week and he said it was important for him to completely focus on his golf when he was out on the course.
"I tried to do as much as I possibly could in the summer because I was aware that this week was going to be demanding," said Poulter.
"I tried to reiterate a number of times that I would like to get as much stuff done early so I can do my job this week and my job this week is obviously to win the golf tournament, that's how I can be most effective."
Editing by Toby Davis