Three course meals fuel Poulter’s charge at the Palmetto Championship

The Englishman fired a first round 3-under-par 68 to sit inside the top 20 after 18 holes at Congaree GC.

They say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach.

If that's the case, Congaree Golf Club in South Carolina knows what it's doing.

This week the club hosts the PGA Tour for the first time and whilst the course itself has received rave reviews, it's the kitchen that has attracted the attention of one golfer in particular.

After carding a 3-under-par 68 to end the first round of the Palmetto Championship T19th, Ian Poulter broke from the modern golfer's habit of talking about nutrition, calorific-intake and body mass.

Instead he drooled about three course feasts in the dining room.

"The two chefs, the husband and wife team, that they have here are remarkable," he said. "I have to tell you, it's the best."

Really? He was asked. The absolute best?

"The best golf club food I've ever had," was his emphatic answer.

"I'm actually going to be pounding some weight on this week, so I'm glad it's kind of hot and I can actually burn some calories off, because, I mean, it's starter, main course and dessert.

"The food is just sensational. We're being looked after really well here.

"People who have never seen Congaree, it's a real treat, it's a gem, it's a well-designed golf course and the food's even better. It's a great week."

Assuming the 45-year-old can avoid any Augustus Gloop-like predicament, he's in good (golfing) shape to contend for the rest of the week.

He sits four shots back of the early pace-setter Wes Roach but, more importantly, Poulter's first lap reiterated the pre-tournament notion that this course should suit him.

Let's take a closer look at his Thursday performance, that suitability and what else the 25/1 shot had to say.

Poulter's first round

The front nine was a bit hectic, swapping a trio of birdies with a hat trick of bogeys, but he cleaned up after the turn, first smoothing five consecutive pars and then ticking three par breakers in the last four holes.

He was strong from the tee (ranking 15th for Strokes Gained Off the Tee), but not top 25 in any other SG category.

Traditional stats reveal another aspect of his game: he missed half the greens in regulation, but when he did find them he putted well (third for Putting Average).

If he can tighten up his approach play, therefore, it's possibly game on.

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Poulter playing fast-running courses

Ahead of this first sighting of Congaree we were told that the course resembled the Australian sandbelt, but also speedy linksland golf.

Both notions would be right up Poulter's street.

On those quick courses down under, he's won at Victoria, been second at Kingston Heath and landed T13th at Royal Melbourne.

In the Open he's finished second at Royal Birkdale, third at Muirfield and ninth at Royal Lytham.

During the first round there was a hint of Pinehurst about the test: those sandy waste areas, the pine trees, the shaved areas around the greens.

Poulter made the cut there in the 2005 US Open and was T17th in the 2014 event.

Poulter on the Congaree test

"You've got opportunities out there. If you drive the ball really well, you can cut a couple of the corners. It was a bit frustrating because I hit three shots heavy today, which was a little unlike me, but 3-under par, I would take obviously that."

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On his momentum after finishing tied third last time out two weeks ago

"I think the mindset is to think you didn't have a week off. There was a lot going on last week and a couple of days rest to hit balls, Luke was playing in a tournament and I was busy.

"Packing for three weeks on the road I don't like, but you have to do it. So I think mentally prepare yourself to come away, play hard, try and earn as many World Ranking points and Ryder Cup points as we possibly can and kind of push on into the summer."

READ MORE: Palmetto Championship: Dustin Johnson off to a flyer at Congaree

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