By Larry Fine
MEDINAH, Illinois (Reuters) - During the heyday of Tiger Woods's reign as world number one, Englishman Ian Poulter cockily proclaimed that he was the man to challenge Tiger Woods at the top of world golf.
Poulter never made good on that boast, but the confident Briton, in contrast to Woods, has been as good as they come under the intense pressure of the Ryder Cup and the 36-year-old relishes another chance to take on the Americans.
"I just love this event more than any other event in the world," Poulter told reporters on Wednesday. "I get very excited to play. I get very proud to put this shirt on and have that crest on my chest. I want to give it my all."
On the Ryder Cup stage, Poulter has certainly overshadowed Woods with a career mark of 8-3 in three previous Cup appearances while the American has been a mediocre 13-14-2.
The Briton, known during the tour season for his brightly coloured outfits, has often been dazzling in match play events with wins at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship (2010) and the Volvo World Match Play Championship (2011).
Home crowd support can often fire up the hosting Ryder Cup team, but Poulter even embraces that.
"I think Chicago is a great sporting town, and this is going to be a very loud week," said Poulter, who grinned in expectation. "For me, it adds to the electricity, adds to the adrenaline rush, and I can't wait.
"It's going to be intimidating, but it's going to be brilliant. I mean, I couldn't or wouldn't want to be in any other situation this week. It fills you full of pride and passion to go out there."
Poulter, who has built a home for himself in Florida, said that while many of the players are good friends with members of the U.S. team, the passion of the Ryder Cup trumps all else.
"This event is unique. I hate to say we don't get on for three days, but there is that divide, and it's not that we don't like each other," Poulter said.
"We are all good friends, both sides of the pond. But there's something about Ryder Cup which kind of intrigues me how you can be great mates with somebody, but, boy, do you want to kill them in Ryder Cup."
(Editing by Frank Pingue)
(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2012. Check for restrictions at: http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp