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Wednesday, 23 April 2014
Ian Poulter  (Getty Images)
Ian Poulter (Getty Images)

Ian Poulter believes a strong European side is beginning to take shape as Ryder Cup qualification gathers momentum ahead of this year's contest at Gleneagles.

Speaking ahead of the 20th Volvo China Open, where Poulter will look to further enhance his credentials for a fifth cap, the Englishman insisted there was still plenty to play for.

Victor Dubuisson and Jamie Donaldson - both seeking a Ryder Cup debut - currently lead the European Points list, with Thomas Bjorn and Henrik Stenson - both of whom have two caps but have not featured since 2002 and 2008 respectively - sitting in the other qualifying spots.

Poulter is joined by compatriots Luke Donald and Justin Rose, Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy and Spain's Sergio Garcia in currently holding a spot on the world list, although Lee Westwood's win in Malaysia last week and Miguel Angel Jimenez's strong Masters Tournament showing have left them breathing down the necks of those currently on course to make Paul McGinley's side.

"There is a long way to go," said Poulter - Europe's talisman during the Miracle of Medinah two years ago.

"I think Paul McGinley will be very pleased to see a lot of the top players and the guys from the last team starting to come into form at this time of the year. 

"There are a lot of big events left to go and you tend to see the world class players performing at their best in the Majors and the biggest tournaments. 

"Luke Donald’s playing great, Sergio is playing great and Lee Westwood has just won. I think the team will take shape over the summer and come September there will be two great teams fighting to get their hands on that fabulous trophy."

Poulter admits he is yet to find top gear in 2014, but feels his best form is not too far away after a top-20 finish at Augusta National.

"There were a few encouraging signs after the Masters," he added. "I had a bit of a strange start to the year in the sense that I didn’t really know what I was doing with my swing for a while, which is unlike me, but I seem to have figured that out and have started to play some really good golf. 

"I am still making the odd costly mistake recently so the results haven’t reflected how well I have been playing but I am looking forward to keeping the improvements coming at the Volvo China Open. We have a world class field this week so it’s going to be a great week here in China.

"Volvo have been one of the biggest supporters of The European Tour over the years. We all like to grow the game and China is at the heart of that will Volvo really driving it forward. 

"China take their sport very seriously and the addition of golf to the Olympics has helped China fast forward their golf programmes; they want their players to compete and win gold. 

"As a player who has played in China for many years I have seen a big change over the years. At a lot of the tournaments out here we often play some exhibition events with young Chinese players from ages 8 upwards and their golf swings and understanding of the game is exceptional. 

"There will be a Chinese Major Champion. I am not saying that will be in two years or five years or ten years but it is happening. Just look at how much it has grown in the last ten years. I can’t see how that will change and continue to grow exponentially over the next ten years and so on."

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1LEVY, AlexanderFRA18-19
2FLEETWOOD, TommyENG18-15
3QUIROS, AlvaroESP18-13
4MOLINARI, FrancescoITA18-12
T5HANSEN, AndersDEN18-11
T5STENSON, HenrikSWE18-11

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