Joost Luiten is four behind Rory McIlroy after two rounds of the USPGA Championship

 Words: Robin Barwick

A Dutchman has never yet appeared in the Ryder Cup, but as the second round of the 2014 PGA Championship winds down, Joost Luiten’s name remains on the leaderboard, and he is working his way in from the fringes of contention for Gleneagles next month.

Luiten shot 69 today at Valhalla Golf Club, two under par, to take his 36-hole score to five under par, four shots behind clubhouse leader Rory McIlroy at the time of writing, and in a share of 8th place.

“Five under par at this stage is good, so I am happy,” said Luiten, 28, after his round. “You have to hit the fairways out there, and then you can be aggressive into the greens, especially now after the rain, as the greens are holding the ball. Good irons shots give birdie putts and that is what you have to do.”

European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley said earlier in the week that over the course of the practice days here at Valhalla he had spoken to all of the players in contention for the team, and Luiten was among them.

“Yes, we had just a short chat on the putting green,” confirmed Luiten, who has won three times on the European tour over the past three years, including a thrilling victory in the KLM Open on home turf last year. “He told me what I already knew, which is that I need to play well. That is what I am trying to do and that is all I can focus on. The Ryder Cup is not really on my mind. When I am on the golf course I focus on each shot I have to play. I just have to go out there and shoot low scores and that is what I am trying to do. We will see what happens.”

Luiten is enduring a heightening test of nerve. He wants to concentrate on his golf and not on the Ryder Cup, yet every conversation he has with the media and his supporters zooms straight in on whether he can make the European team. It is the same with the other players vying for a place in McGinley’s final 12, and those who have the ability to produce their best golf as the Ryder Cup becomes increasingly difficult to ignore will be the ones teeing up in blue and gold next month.

Robin Barwick travelled to the PGA Championship courtesy of Mercedes-Benz. Mercedes-Benz is the official car of the PGA Championship