Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Ian Poulter can earn Ryder place: Paul McGinley

Up against it: Ryder Cup hero Ian Poulter is fighting to make the team

European captain Paul McGinley admits he is concerned about the loss of form which has seen Ryder Cup talisman Ian Poulter drop out of the automatic qualifying places for Gleneagles.

Poulter, who inspired the 'Miracle at Medinah' in 2012 and finished with a 100 per cent record in Chicago, looked almost certain to make the team when he finished second, fifth and second in the final three events of last season.

But the 38-year-old Englishman has registered just one top-five finish in 2014 and Martin Kaymer's victory in the Players Championship a fortnight ago knocked him out of the qualifying places.

"I'm aware of how Poults is doing," said McGinley.

"He made a lot of points early in the campaign, but is not in the team at the moment as he's just been pushed out. But he's in that second tier and one more good week and he's right back in it again. There's a long way to go. I'm a little bit concerned what's happening right now, but not worried.

"I spoke to him for a good 45 minutes on the phone last week and we had a really good chat. He knows he has my support like all the players do. He's determined to be there but he has to earn his place. I've said it before and I told him last week, he has to earn his place. He knows that."

Asked if he would still select Poulter if he was off form at the end of August, McGinley added: "It depends on what you term by form. He knows he needs to step on the gas over the summer. He needs to improve.

"But he's making cuts and he's finishing decent, he's not way off form, not miles away. He feels he's got his schedule a little bit wrong. He hasn't really had a run of tournaments, but starting now he has this run of tournaments. He's really up for it."

Only five of the team from two years ago are currently in the automatic qualifying places, but McGinley has been delighted by the form of Sergio Garcia.

"I walked a couple of holes with Sergio at the Players and I don't think I've ever seen him hit the ball better – absolutely phenomenal," he said.

"Sergio loves the Ryder Cup and is pretty much guaranteed in the team you can say now."

Meanwhile, Martin Kaymer believes he is a better player now than when he was world number one, but the German is desperate to match his nation's football team in managing expectations.

Germany's form in recent championships has made them one of the favourites for this summer's World Cup in Brazil, while Kaymer re-emerged as a major force with victory in the Players.

The 29-year-old won the US PGA Championship in August 2010 and became world number one for eight weeks the following February, but believes changes to his swing have finally bedded in.

"I can hit any shot that I want to hit and I didn't believe that I could do it when I was number one in the world," said Kaymer ahead of the BMW PGA Championship which starts tomorrow at Wentworth.

"It was very easy for me to play golf, but it was not satisfying. So now I would say I'm a more complete player.

"It's just important that others don't always think that we have to deliver every single week. The German national team are going to play the World Cup and when I play with different players every week everyone says, 'Oh yeah, Germany should win'.

"That's a good possibility, but it doesn't mean that we have to win or that you don't keep the expectations low.

"You can only get disappointed otherwise. It's not that easy."

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