Led by Gonzalo Fernandez Castaño’s brilliant first round of five under par 67, five of the men on the cusp of qualification for Europe’s Ryder Cup Team made hugely positive starts to the US PGA Championship.
Castaño, currently four spots outside the Team on the World Points List, needs a top four finish this week to break into the team after the season’s final Major.
He did nothing to harm his cause with a brilliant first round to move into a tie for second place at Kiawah.
The three men ahead of Castaño on the World Points List will also be pleased with their day’s work from a Ryder Cup perspective – Nicolas Colsaerts (73), Ian Poulter (70) and Rafa Cabrera-Bello (71) – who are all still very much in the hunt for the big finish that would propel them even closer to making José Maria Olazábal’s Team to face the USA at Medinah next month.
Thomas Björn, just one place behind Castaño on the World List, also made a great start to the US PGA, matching Poulter’s two under 70 in the first round.
Those five players will have taken note of the trials and tribulations of the two men currently occupying the last two places in the Team – Martin Kaymer and Sergio Garcia.
It was a disappointing day for the German and the Spaniard after respective first rounds of 79 and 76 left them struggling to make the halfway cut and the opportunity to pick up some potentially invaluable Ryder Cup qualification points come Sunday night.