St. Louis - Britain's Ian Poulter has four wins in five
Ryder Cup appearances and hopes a late charge in qualifying might earn him a
European automatic berth for next month's showdown in France.
Poulter fired a three-under par 67 on Thursday to stand two
strokes behind US leader Rickie Fowler after the opening round of the 100th PGA
Championship at Bellerive Country Club.
Fowler has two more events, including the year's final
major, before the European squad is set, four players on points and four more
on world ranking.
The 42-year-old Englishman, known for his pivotal role in
Europe's 2012 "Miracle at Medinah" comeback victory, stands 22nd in
points needing to hurdle 18 players to qualify.
He's 31st in the rankings, with 15th-ranked countryman Paul
Casey in the last Ryder Cup spot on rankings as a US PGA playoff opener in
suburban New York looms.
"I've got this week and I've got New Jersey because I
think it's picked Sunday night of the Denmark event, which is the third day of
Boston," Poulter said.
"I got two weeks to try and push in. I'm close, but I
need a little push. If I can push this week for sure, if I can have a strong
week in New Jersey as well and edge in, it would be fantastic."
Poulter regrets a final-round 74 that left him level 10th at
last week's WGC event.
"I could have got it done last weekend. That's why I'm
a little frustrated that I didn't, but I think I can squeeze in if I play well
here," said Poulter, who has never won a major title.
Blocking off the Cup quest has been tough, Poulter admits.
"I'm trying not to think it, but I know it's
there," he said. "I'm close enough now where one good week in the
next two weeks can push me in. It's on my mind. I want to be there in Paris. So
hopefully we can make it."
Two hopefuls for the US squad, Xander Schauffele and Tony
Finau, played alongside US Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk on Thursday in what
could be seen as an audition for possible captain's picks, of which Furyk has
four to hand out next month.
Furyk fired a 69, one shot lower than Schauffele, while
Finau shot 74.
"Both guys are great young players," Furyk said.
"I haven't had an opportunity to play too much with Tony, but I have
played with him, seen him play, know him real well, talk to him in the locker
"That's the first time I ever played with Xander, so
exciting. Both really talented young players. They got off to tough starts this
morning and they scrapped it out.
"Tony had some bumps and bruises along the way but he
fought and fought and made some birdies."
Furyk said he was impressed watching on television as
Schauffele shared second in last month's British Open.
"He seemed pretty unflappable, seemed like a guy that
doesn't let much bother him, let's it roll off his back and goes to the next
hole," Furyk said.
"I was impressed with the way he conducts himself and
the way he handles himself."