Like Watson, Paul McGinley will make three selections to round out his team on Tuesday, and the Irishman will likely be pleased by the opening-round performances from two of his more notable candidates.
Luke Donald and Ian Poulter both made Ryder Cup squads in 2004, 2010 and 2012 – all European wins. (Donald was also on the winning European squad in 2006.) Now both in need of a captain’s pick to make plans for Gleneagles, Donald opened with a 2-under 69 at TPC Boston while Poulter shot a 4-under 67.
At No. 80 in the FedEx Cup standings, Donald needs a good result to boost his chances for Scotland and to ensure a trip to next week’s BMW Championship.
“There’s two aims this week,” he said. “There’s trying to progress to next week and have a solid week, have a solid tournament for myself, and hopefully show captain McGinley a little bit of form.”
Form has been lacking from Donald of late, as his best PGA Tour result since May is a T-38 finish at the Players Championship. Still, he hopes that the veteran perspective he can bring to the European team room carries weight.
“I haven’t played very well lately, but I still feel like I could be a valuable part of that team,” Donald said. “Obviously I have a lot of experience, and hopefully that’s going to count for a lot.”
Following his performance at Medinah, Poulter may have achieved Ryder Cup emeritus standing, but as in 2012 he is now reliant on a captain’s pick to make the squad. At No. 91 in the FedEx Cup standings, he insists his sole focus remains on this week’s event and advancing in the playoffs.
“I’m not thinking about the Ryder Cup. It’s in a few weeks’ time,” Poulter said. “Obviously it’s on everyone’s radar because everyone wants to play in it. And I want to play in it as well. So I’ll have to wait and see.”