Paul McGinley and Tom Watson have very different dilemmas ahead of the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles

Words: Robin Barwick

Tiger Woods is clearly out of sorts, in fitness and form. Matt Kuchar withdrew from the 2014 PGA Championship with a bad back. Jason Dufner played nine holes before succumbing to a neck problem yesterday. Dustin Johnson isn’t even at Valhalla this week, and may or may not be in rehab. One of the United States’ best performers so far in the PGA Championship is Steve Stricker, who has a hip problem which makes walking painful, and who is expecting to be a non-playing vice captain for Tom Watson at Gleneagles for the Ryder Cup next month.

On the Golf Channel in the United Sates last night, they described the American Ryder Cup team as being in a state of “crisis”. That is over-stating it as the Americans have plenty of strength in depth – if not Ryder Cup experience – and at least Phil Mickelson is beginning to show genuine form, backed up by his first round yesterday of 69, two under par.

Paul McGinley, on the other hand, could not have asked for a better first round from his European Ryder Cup candidates. The three biggest names yet to stamp their authority on qualification – English trio Lee Westwood (65, -6), Luke Donald (70, -1) and Ian Poulter (68, -3)  – all got off to fast starts yesterday, while the top-10 on the leaderboard at Valhalla features Henrik Stenson, Rory McIlroy, Westwood, Eduardo Molinari, Mikko Ilonen, Chris Wood, Poulter, Joost Luiten and Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger. It is every bit a European embarrassment of riches.

Both captains are set to have major selection headaches over the coming weeks, but of contrasting kinds.

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