Ian Poulter plays himself into Ryder Cup reckoning

 

The Ryder Cup battle lines are being drawn. The qualification period for the United States is over. Europe's closes in a fortnight at the Johnny Walker Championship at Gleneagles. Ian Poulter's timely assault of the PGA leader board propelled him into the 10th automatic qualification spot.

Even if Nicolas Colsaerts or Sergio Garcia were to oust him next week, Poulter's showing at Kiawah Island and his Ryder Cup resumé would make it difficult for Jose-Maria Olazabal to overlook him as one of his two captain's picks.

The American captain, Davis Love III, has four picks at his disposal. Eight have already qualified: Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson, Jason Dufner, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar and Phil Mickelson. Expect Dustin Johnson, Hunter Mahan, Rickie Fowler and Steve Stricker to join them.

Olazabal will have to weigh the competing claims of Colsaerts, Garcia and the resurgent Padraig Harrington, not to mention Thomas Bjorn. Olazabal is doubtless buoyed not only by Rory McIlroy's US PGA victory but by a leader board packed with European muscle.

McIlroy headed a British and Irish top three: David Lynn was second, with Justin Rose and Poulter tied third. Peter Hanson was tied seventh alongside Welshman Jamie Donaldson. A late rush into Ryder Cup form has probably come too late for Lynn and Donaldson, though.

Ryder Cup rankings: Teams as it stands

Europe

Rory McIlroy

Justin Rose

Graeme McDowell

Paul Lawrie

Francesco Molinari

Luke Donald

Lee Westwood

Peter Hanson

Martin Kaymer

Ian Poulter

(plus two captain's picks)

United States

Tiger Woods

Bubba Watson

Jason Dufner

Keegan Bradley

Webb Simpson

Zach Johnson

Matt Kuchar

Phil Mickelson

(plus four captain's picks)

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