Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Ian Poulter follows Rory McIlroy into Ryder Cup reckoning

KIAWAH ISLAND, SC - AUGUST 12: Ian Poulter of England smiles after putting on the 18th green during the Final Round of the 94th PGA Championship at the Ocean Course on August 12, 2012 in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

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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