Poulter fit and fired up to break the British hoodoo

While the world doubts if Tiger Woods is "fresh and ready to go", that at least is how his playing partner rates his own form. Ian Poulter says he is over a knee injury sustained playing basketball and is confident of going one better in The Players Championship than last year.

In today's first round, the Englishman plays with Woods and will be intrigued to see how the world No 1 performs after his early exit from last week's Quail Hollow Championship.

"We were all shocked by that," said Poulter yesterday. What would they all be if Woods were to miss two cuts in a row for the first time in his career? At 4-1 the bookies rate him twice as likely do so than win at 8-1.

No Briton has won the richest event in golf since Sandy Lyle in 1987 but the current world No 6 came closer than any of his countrymen when finishing as runner-up behind Henrik Stenson in 2009.

"I like this course, it's one I've played well," Poulter said. "In fact, I played it hundreds of times on the PlayStation when I worked in the pro shop. My best was 50-something like Ryo Ishikawa. He's done it for real, though."

There had been doubts over Poulter after he pulled out last week as he has played only one tournament since mid-March, finishing 10th at The Masters. "I was playing basketball in the driveway," he said, explaining the injury. "The NBA players play for 48 minutes and I play for over an hour – that's smart. But I'm fresh and ready."

Britain and Ireland are well represented at Sawgrass with such as Rory ("Mr 62") McIlroy, Lee Westwood, Paul Casey and Padraig Harrington.