Ryder Cup qualification has not yet started, but Ian Poulter already has his sights set on sealing his place by the end of the year.
Poulter secured his cup debut at Oakland Hills only in the final qualifying event last year, the BMW International Open in Munich.
But a first-round 66 in the same tournament yesterday has inspired the 29-year-old to target a spot on Ian Woosnam's 12-man team for the K Club next September as soon as possible.
"It won't come down to the last tournament this time," said Poulter, who played the last six holes of his final round in six under par last year to cling on to the final automatic qualifying place.
"I want to be there and I'd love to have it sorted by the end of year. I'm not saying I'm going to, but it is possible.
"The tournaments are big enough now where, if you do play well enough, you can make a massive dent in it.
"It would take a lot of pressure off. There were three or four of us last year jostling for spots in the Ryder Cup, and that's not a nice position to be in."
Poulter feels it is vital to qualify for the inaugural US$5 million HSBC Champions Tournament in China in November and needs to remain in the world's top 50 - he is currently 47th - for two more weeks to do so.
But he was less impressed to learn that the record prize money on offer in the HSBC World Match Play at Wentworth in September also counts towards Ryder Cup qualification.
Only 16 players will battle for the £1 million first prize - and although the winner's earnings will be capped at £400,000 in terms of qualification points, Poulter was not best pleased.
"I'll say one word," he added. "Pathetic." Poulter still has an outside chance to qualify but would need to win this week and hope both Paul McGinley and David Howell - who occupy the two remaining qualifying places on the Order of Merit - win virtually nothing in Munich.
That looks unlikely, given the fact McGinley carded an opening 68 and Howell a 66 at Nord-Eichenried.
With former Formula One boss Eddie Jordan acting as his caddy, McGinley made an appropriately fast start with four birdies in his first five holes, but could subsequently only manage one more birdie and bogeyed the 15th.
"We started as if we were on a qualifying lap, got a puncture near the end but we got it home," joked Jordan.
McGinley, third in the NEC Invitational at Firestone on Sunday, added: "It was great today. I feel I played better than a 68 but it is a good score and we'll take it."
As ever in Munich the scoring was low and McGinley's 68 left him three shots off the lead shared by BMW Championship winner Angel Cabrera, Holland's Robert-Jan Derksen and Australian Brett Rumford.
Denmark's Thomas Bjorn was among nine players just a shot behind on six under, continuing his good form from the USPGA Championship where he finished second behind Phil Mickelson at Baltusrol.
It was Bjorn's third runners-up finish in a major championship after the Open championships of 2000 and 2003, the latter occasion famously seeing him squander a two-shot lead with three holes to play.
Earlier in the day Luke Donald recovered from a dreadful start to remain in contention for a first victory of the season.
Donald double-bogeyed the tenth, his opening hole, but played his last six holes in five under par for a 67.
The Ryder Cup star said: "At 472 yards it's probably the hardest hole on the course and not the easiest to start on, but you shouldn't be making double bogey from the middle of the fairway."
A three-iron approach right of the green, a poor chip and three putts followed an ideal drive but Donald maintained his composure to birdie the next and picked up two more to be out in 35, one under.
Another short par putt went astray on the third, his 12th, before a run of two birdies and an eagle in the next three holes, the par five sixth easily reached with a drive and six-iron.
"I made six pretty easy birdies in the pro-am so I had to stick in there after the start and hope there were some more birdies around the corner," added Donald, who will defend his European Masters title in Switzerland next week.
"Apart from missing a couple of short putts it was a pretty good round."
Defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez struggled at the tenth, taking six and another bogey on the first left him five over par but a closing hat-trick of birdies gave the Spaniard a fighting chance of making the cut on two over.
Droitwich's John Bickerton sat in the vanguard of the Midland challenge after shooting a one-under-par 71 which is unlikely to worry the leaderboard.
However, if he can shoot low numbers today he has the ability to claw his way back into contention as do Steve Webster (74) and Paul Broadhurst (73) who are both chasing second European Tour wins of the season.
David Park too might offer a challenge before the weekend if the Hereford golfer can improve considerably on his level-par opening round.