Poulter hope to go even better; open ROUND-UP.
"I've never seen the course before. I turned up at 10 o'clock on Sunday night and had a little look on the 18th green," explained Poulter, who was second behind Padraig Harrington at Birkdale last year.
"Security guards came out shouting 'What are you doing? Get off!' I said 'It's okay, I'm playing'. That was my first look and I almost got escorted off in a wagon, so that was nice.
"But the golf course is fabulous. I played nine holes yesterday and then snuck out there this morning at 7am on the 10th tee with no-one about to play the back nine. It was very nice, I'm very impressed."
After finishing runner up last year, the 33-year-old believes he can go one better and end Britain's 10-year wait for a Major champion, Paul Lawrie being the last winner in the Open at Carnoustie in 1999.
"I'm not going out there having the mindset on Thursday morning 'I have to win, I have to win,"' Poulter said.
"Yes, I do have expectations to try to go one better than I did last year, but I will be pacing myself from Thursday to try to get in position to strike on Sunday afternoon."