Poulter targets fast track to Ryder Cup

Poulter secured his cup debut at Oakland Hills only in the final qualifying event last year, the BMW International Open in Munich. But a first-round 66 in the same tournament has inspired the 29-year-old to target a spot on Ian Woosnam's 12-man team for the K Club next September as soon as possible.

"It won't come down to the last tournament this time," said Poulter, who played the last six holes of his final round in six under last year to cling on to the final automatic qualifying place. "I want to be there and I'd love to have it sorted by the end of year. I'm not saying I'm going to, but it is possible.

"The tournaments are big enough now where if you do play well enough you can make a massive dent in it. It would take a lot of pressure off. There were three or four of us last year jostling for spots in the Ryder Cup, and that's not a nice position to be in."

Poulter feels it is vital to qualify for the inaugural HSBC Champions Tournament in China in November and needs to remain in the world's top 50 - he is currently 47th - for two more weeks.

But he was less impressed to learn that the record prize-money on offer in the HSBC World Match Play at Wentworth in September also counts towards Ryder Cup qualification. Only 16 players will battle for the £1m first prize - and although the winner's earnings will be capped at £400,000 in terms of qualification points, Poulter was not pleased. "I'll say one word," he said. "Pathetic."

Poulter still has an outside chance to qualify himself but would need to win this week and hope that both Paul McGinley and David Howell - who occupy the two remaining qualifying places on the Order of Merit - win virtually nothing in Munich.

That looks unlikely, given that McGinley scored an opening 68 and Howell a 66 at Nord-Eichenried.

Luke Donald recovered from a nightmare start to put himself in contention for a first win of the year in Munich's BMW International Open.

Donald had a double-bogey at his opening hole at Nord-Eichenried yesterday morning and, on a course renowned for low scoring, was only level par after 12 holes. But he played his last six holes in five under par with an eagle and three birdies to record a 67.

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