There are still 11 months to go before Europe defend the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles and yet Ian Poulter knows that a strong run of results in the next four weeks could virtually seal his place in the team.
It is a tantalising prospect for all Europe's leading players, especially those based full-time in the United States. And with a total of $30.5m (£18.8m) up for grabs in the European Tour's lucrative "Final Series", the money on offer is not to be sniffed at either.
"There's great potential to put tons of points on the board, the chance to get it done," Europe's talisman said after a second round of 69 in the BMW Masters at Lake Malaren – the first of four big events – that left him trailing Luke Guthrie, of the United States, by seven strokes.
What has not gone down so well among the players is that they are now required to play at least two of the first three events of the final series to qualify for the season's grand finale, the 60-man DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
The tour is protecting itself and its sponsors against the relentless onslaught of the PGA Tour in the US, but players are not keen on being told they should be away from home for up to four weeks at a stretch.
It did not help the tour's cause that a clearly injured Joost Luiten, of the Netherlands, felt he had no choice but to play one shot in the first round to get one of his events "under his belt" before pulling out. Standing on the tee, but unable to watch, was Justin Walters, the first reserve.
"I'm not getting any younger and it's not getting any easier to travel," Poulter said, pointing out that he has four young children at home. "I'm finding it hard.
"I love playing here, love playing around the world. But you need to pick and choose. When people get on your back [for not playing certain events], you like to tell them where to go because they haven't got a clue. I don't give a toss any more about what people think about my schedule. I'll do what works for me. I'm now away for a month and I'm missing my kids."
Guthrie had a 71 to move to eight under par, a lead of four shots over five others, including Paul Casey, another Englishman with designs on the Ryder Cup. "It's a huge goal, but there are goals above that," Casey said. "In 2004, I just scraped in to the team and it consumed me. I swore I'd never do it again. My aim after that was to make it a by-product of everything else. And that's what I want to do now."Reuse content