• Johnnie Walker Championship, Round One

Colsaerts charging towards Ryder Cup berth

ESPN staff
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Nicolas Colsaerts is the only man in the field still in with a chance of landing an automatic Ryder Cup spot © Getty Images
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Martin Kaymer's position in the European Ryder Cup team looks ever more precarious after Nicolas Colsaerts made a flying start to the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles on Thursday.

Colsaerts is the only man in the field still in with a chance of landing an automatic Ryder Cup spot at the expense of former world No. 1 Kaymer, who is currently in tenth position in the World Points List and in Colsaerts' crosshairs.

In order to displace Germany's Kaymer, the Belgian needs to either win the Johnnie Walker or finish in a tie for second with no more than one other player. He finished his first round at three-under, and in possession of the early clubhouse lead.

Even if Colsaerts is unsuccessful in his mission, he has proved that he is playing well enough to be at the forefront of Jose Maria Olazabal's thinking for a captain's pick. Olazabal will confirm his final, 12-strong Ryder Cup squad - including his two discretionary selections - on Monday.

Ian Poulter is a prohibitive odds-on favourite to land one of those picks, with the other thought to be heading for Kaymer or Colsaerts - although Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Padraig Harrington and David Lynn, among others, will not have given up hope.

Colsaerts, who won the Volvo World Match Play Championship earlier this year, has an extremely strong case, but also a lack of experience working against him: the nine guaranteed members of the European team (and Kaymer) have all played at least one Ryder Cup before, as has Harrington.

Colsaerts set about booking his place at Medinah with a 69 that featured five birdies and two bogeys. One shot back is his playing partner Thomas Bjorn, who will be one of Olazabal's vice-captains next month.

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