“You don't see anyone getting this excited about any other golf tournament, and that's what makes it so special”
But the Northern Irishman, who won the US PGA Championship by eight shots six weeks ago, believes he has matured as a player and a man since his Ryder Cup debut at Celtic Manor two years ago, when he won only one of his four matches.
"I don't think I have a bullseye on my back," said McIlroy, who is the youngest in the visitors' ranks by a full three years.
"I think it's a huge compliment that people are saying they want to beat me, but whoever wants to take me on can take me on.
"Last time, after the first 11 holes I was very anxious. I was very tentative, trying not to make a mistake instead of just going out and freewheeling it and playing the way I usually do.
"It's going to be different this year. I'm going to go out and give it a go, to enjoy it.
"I definitely have more confidence in myself as a player than I did two years ago. I'm a lot more sure of myself and sure of my ability, so I think the feeling will be different going on to the first tee here on Friday."
McIlroy appeared underwhelmed by the Ryder Cup at this stage two years ago, saying he would rather sink a winning putt at a major than against the US.
Now he has done that twice - he also won the US Open in 2011 - his views have come into line with those of Englishman Poulter.
"Celtic Manor opened my eyes," he said. "It's just a very different atmosphere - being part of a team, not playing for yourself, playing for your 11 team-mates, your captain, your vice-captains, your country, your continent.
"It's a big deal. I realised that last time in Wales. You can just see that by the celebrations when somebody holes a putt and the emotions that are generated.
"You don't see anyone getting this excited about any other golf tournament, and that's what makes it so special."
Friday, 28 September (all times BST)
23:59-02:00 - BBC Two & BBC HD channel - Highlights from Day One
Saturday 29 September
11:00-13:00 - BBC Two & BBC HD channel - Repeat of Day One highlights
23:59-02:00 - BBC Two & BBC HD channel - Highlights from Day Two
Sunday 30 September
14:00-16:00 - BBC Two & BBC HD channel - Repeat of Day Two highlights
23:00-01:00 - BBC Two & BBC HD channel - Highlights from Day Three
Monday 1 October
19:00-20:00 - BBC Two & BBC HD channel - Repeat of Day Three highlights
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