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Poulters virtual skills help him at The Players

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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Ian Poulter carried a certain confidence to his first appearance at The Players Championship from an unusual source.

Poulter, who finished second here last year, gained a measure of comfort learning the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course playing “hundreds, hundreds and hundreds” of rounds on the course in a video game on a Sony PlayStation.

“I played more rounds on PlayStation as a kid than I ever have now,” Poulter said.

“I like the golf course. It’s a tough golf course. This is supposed to be the fifth major, and I like the way the golf course sets up.”

Poulter, 34, said he became familiar with Pete Dye’s TPC Sawgrass Stadium design playing video games while working as a teenager in a golf course pro shop in England.

“For hours in a pro shop,” Poulter said.

Poulter said his low score at the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course is “50 something.” That’s on the video game. He said the 17th island green isn’t so daunting with a game controller in hand.

“That green was enormous,” Poulter said. “I’ve made birdie there all the time on the computer.”

Poulter has played The Players Championship for real six times, missing the cut just once. He was runner-up to Henrik Stenson last year.