Yannick Paul fired a six-under 64 in the first round of the European Masters first round at Crans-sur-Sierre in Switzerland on Thursday as he began his bid to clinch a spot in the European Ryder Cup team strongly.
The German is one of several players still trying to gain an automatic place via the European points list.
Paul finished one shot behind a group of six players on seven-under — Spain’s Nacho Elvira, Malaysia’s Gavin Green, Denmark’s John Axelsen, Japan’s Masahiro Kawamura and English duo Matt Fitzpatrick and Eddie Pepperell.
Fitzpatrick would book his place in the Ryder Cup team with a top-six finish in Switzerland, although he is very likely to be one of captain Luke Donald’s picks even if he failed to qualify via the world points list.
For the 29-year-old Paul his realistic chance of making a Ryder Cup debut is to qualify through his own efforts with victory in Switzerland guaranteeing his place.
He picked up three birdies on his front nine and two more birdies and an eagle on the back nine with his only blemish being a bogey at the par-three 11th hole.
Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre went in to the European Masters in the box seat on the European points list and like Paul would clinch his Ryder Cup place by winning the title.
He has work to do though after carding a two-under first-round 68 to sit in a tie for 43rd place.
Adrian Meronk, Victor Perez, Rasmus Hojgaard and Adrian Otaegui are also still in contention for places in Donald’s team.
Rory McIlroy and John Rahm have secured their spots on Team Europe via the European points list with Viktor Hovland and Tyrrell Hatton assured via the world points list.
Two more automatic places are up for grabs, one from each points list, with Donald then having six picks to make up his dozen for the match against United States in Rome next month.
Source : Reuters