The Englishman carded eight birdies and no bogeys on Thursday afternoon as the world’s best players made the most of favourable scoring conditions at Firestone Country Club.
His opening 62 was Poulter’s best score since the 2010 UBS Hong Kong Open, when he posted a second-round 60 on his way to lifting the trophy.
American duo Kyle Stanley and Rickie Fowler were in a tie for second on seven under par after shooting opening 63s, while Spain’s Jon Rahm, American Patrick Cantlay and South Korea’s Si Woo Kim were then another stroke back on six under.
Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy, Australian duo Jason Day and Marc Leishman, Indian Anirban Lahiri and America’s Luke List, Kevin Na and Justin Thomas were all on five under as 13 players shot 65 or better in a single round at a World Golf Championships event for the first time.
Course-specialist Tiger Woods – an eight-time winner at Firestone – opened with a 66 to sit a shot further back.
“I felt like today I didn’t quite hit it as well as I wanted to, but I fought out a score today, which was good. Really felt like I putted well. I did a little bit of work yesterday trying to get a feel for the ball rolling out because the last time I played that wasn’t the case. Hit a lot of putts from above the hole yesterday, and consequently, today I felt really comfortable.
“It’s nice to shoot rounds like I did at The Open and like I did today, put together rounds where I may not feel the best but I’m able to post a score. That’s how you win golf tournaments”, said Woods.