If Tiger Woods and the rest of the star-studded field at the U.S. Open needed any more motivation than the prospect of enjoying major glory this weekend, then the offer of sizeable Ryder Cup points is sure to focus the already razor-sharp minds of the United States and Europe's elite.
The second major of the year is one of the biggest counted events ahead of the biennial contest, making success at Shinnecock Hills of even greater importance for those hoping to make the team.
In-form Francesco Molinari, Tyrrell Hatton, Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy are among the European contingent who are looking well set, while Team USA's options are healthy with Patrick Reed leading the way from Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth.
But there are many desperate to impress Europe captain Thomas Bjorn and USA counterpart Jim Furyk at the 118th hosting of the U.S Open, and we have picked out those most in need of a good showing.
Woods will be in Paris no matter what happens between now and September, having been named as one of Furyk's vice-captains. But the 14-time major champion will undoubtedly still harbour ambitions of playing at Le Golf National. However, Woods is way down the American rankings in 35th and in need of big points to get an automatic spot. A captain's pick remains a possibility, but there are plenty above him who may feel they have more legitimate claims.
Two years ago, Jimmy Walker headed to Hazeltine as a major champion, having won the 2016 US PGA Championship. This time around, the 39-year-old's position is not as assured. Walker sits 15th, around 1700 points below Phil Mickelson in eighth spot. Walker's form has improved in recent months, as he recorded three top-10 finishes in a row – including a tied second at the Players Championship – before sharing 20th at the Fort Worth Invitational. A win at Shinnecock would significantly boost his chances.
A two-time major champion and a veteran of five Ryder Cups, Zach Johnson would undoubtedly add valuable experience to Team USA. Johnson, whose only win in the Ryder Cup came two years ago after he missed the 2008 event, could do with a shot in the arm, though. The 42-year-old is 26th on the points list and is struggling for form, achieving just one top-five finish so far in 2018.
With the captains each allowed four picks, the chances of Matt Kuchar not playing in France are remote to say the least. Add in the fact that Kuchar is regarded as one of the nicest guys on Tour, a crucial factor in the team event, then he is surely likely to feature. But, he will want to make sure there are no doubts and a first major title would boost his hopes of automatic selection.
SERGIO GARCIA/HENRIK STENSON
Similarly to Kuchar for the United States, it is hard to imagine that major champions and Ryder Cup stalwarts Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson would fail to receive a captain's pick. But Garcia, who was displaced from an automatic spot after Rafael Cabrera-Bello impressed at the recent Italian Open, will still be keen to do well at Shinnecock and leave Bjorn with no doubts. Stenson's situation is possibly more difficult. The Swede is 17th on the European points list and 13th on the world points list - a few decent performances may be needed to make sure of his place.
Ian Poulter is a man synonymous with the Ryder Cup, not least for his heroics that inspired the 'Miracle of Medinah' in 2012. Struggles with form and fitness meant the Englishman missed out in 2014, but Poulter has been showing signs of his brilliant best again this year – most notably his win at the Houston Open that booked his ticket to the Masters. Poulter has a bit of work to do to earn an automatic pick, though, sitting 26th on the European list and 10th on the world standings. With plenty of other contenders for Bjorn to pick from, Poulter would benefit greatly from a big showing in Shinnecock.
MARTIN KAYMER/GRAEME McDOWELL
Two former U.S. Open champions and two players well versed in the Ryder Cup, Martin Kaymer and Graeme McDowell – the latter one of Bjorn's vice-captains – need big performances to become contenders for playing selection. Kaymer, the 2014 U.S. Open victor who sank the winning putt at Medinah, is 31st and 38th on the respective European and world points list, with McDowell faring little better in 38th and 37th on the two rankings.
Paul Casey made the controversial decision to relinquish his European Tour card in 2015, making him ineligible for selection two years ago. But the Englishman, who last played the Ryder Cup in 2008, opted to re-join the European Tour last year and, as one of the most consistent performers in the game, will represent a big selection boost for Bjorn. Casey will likely need to qualify through the world list to get an automatic pick, he is currently 12th, although he will fancy his chances as one of the captain's choices.
18. Juni 2018
|Defiant Jones confident of upturn in England fortunes|
|Pogba a natural leader for France - Matuidi|
|Frampton to face Jackson as Fury continues comeback in Belfast|
|Team effort needed for Japan to stop James, says Nishino|
|BREAKING NEWS: Di Francesco extends Roma contract|
|It was a normal challenge - Switzerland equaliser fine by Shaqiri|
|Hamilton hopes to avoid ´boring´ French Grand Prix|
|Coutinho expects more Neymar punishment at World Cup|
|Cisse hails Mane as ´one of the best players in the world´|
|Forsberg falls flat as Granqvist proves Sweden´s hero|
|Sweden 1 South Korea 0: Granqvist´s VAR-assisted penalty settles tight game|
|Nishino concerned Japan players affected by Osaka earthquake|
|Isco pleased with Lopetegui´s Real Madrid appointment|
|Hazard hints at Real Madrid interest|
|Wasps disappointed as Wilson joins Scotland backroom staff|
|Hierro has full confidence in De Gea|
|Russia will stop Salah - Cherchesov|
|Allen signs new four-year Stoke contract|
|England issue update over injured duo Stokes and Woakes|
|Mancini leaves door open for Buffon´s Italy return|
|Alli calls for England to be ruthless in World Cup opener|
|Tahir rested as Proteas call up uncapped duo|
|Uruguay v Saudi Arabia: Centurion Suarez seeks World Cup redemption|
|Portugal v Morocco: Hat-trick hero Ronaldo hunts stricken Atlas Lions|
|Argentina didn´t draw because of Messi´s missed penalty - Maradona|
|Wenger heaps praise on France star Kante|
|If VAR helps referees, I´m not against that – Australia´s Sainsbury|
|Kimmich questions Germany mentality after shock defeat|
|Roberts to leave Warrington Wolves|
|Australia talent Arzani ready to make the jump from A-League|
|Lewandowski: I can be at the top until I´m 35|
|All Blacks winger Savea confirms Toulon switch|
|Free Fall available for France after red card rescinded|
|South Korea can progress from wide-open group, says Park Ji-sung|
|Gordon called up by Wallabies to replace injured Genia|
|Germany can still win World Cup, insists Werner|
|Man United & Real Madrid talk not affecting Milinkovic-Savic|
|Out-of-contract Ruiz focused on Costa Rica|
|Southgate will not bombard England with last-minute instructions|
|Muller: Germany under extreme pressure|
|Rangers score four runs in ninth to pick up walk-off win over Rockies|
|U.S. Open champion Koepka happy to continue being ´overlooked´|
|Pogba: I´m the most criticised player in the world|
|Maradona: Sampaoli´s game plan against Iceland was a disgrace|
|De Gea will bounce back from error – Marchena|
|Slater named for Maroons return|
|Woods, Faldo, Harrington and Koepka – U.S. Open champion joins fine club after successful defence|
|Fleetwood positive despite falling short at U.S. Open|
|Jesus: I had no reason to play for a penalty|
|Hernandez admits to exaggerating fouls against Australia|
|Koepka says winning two U.S. Opens not even in his ´wildest dreams´|
|Hernandez: Griezmann an idol at Atletico|
|Sri Lanka take charge despite Gabriel exploits|
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|Koepka fights off challengers to successfully defend U.S. Open title|
|´Aching´ Neymar urges referees to intervene|
|BREAKING NEWS: Koepka holds on to defend U.S. Open title|
17. Juni 2018
|Lozano goal causes artificial earthquake in Mexico|
|Djokovic: Mental battle will be Murray´s biggest|
|Hummels criticises Germany tactics in Mexico loss|
|Brazil the latest favourites to stumble, but Tite and Neymar won´t panic|
|Magnificent Fleetwood matches U.S. Open record with closing 63|
|Brazil 1 Switzerland 1: Zuber pegs back below-par Selecao|
|Warrington hold off Wakefield fightback, Tigers held despite Hitchcox heroics|
|Germany follow trend of poor starts for World Cup champions|
|Reed on the charge as U.S. Open race hots up|
|Milinkovic-Savic can play for any team in Europe, says Crespo|
|Southgate keen to unleash his bold new England|
|Konta fumes as Barty takes Nottingham title|
|Kante hails Pogba´s match-winning contribution|