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Saturday May 10, 2014 MYT 3:22:04 AM
Saturday May 10, 2014 MYT 3:23:01 AM
by mark lamport-stokes
PONTE VEDRA BEACH Florida (Reuters) - Swede Jonas Blixt has won twice on the highly competitive U.S. PGA Tour in the last two years but is happy to be flying under the radar as a potential member of Europe's Ryder Cup team in September.
The 30-year-old from Nassjo has been based in the United States since he attended Florida State University on a golf scholarship and readily accepts that his name is not being bandied about as much as some of his other fellow Europeans.
"I have never played a Ryder Cup and obviously I'm not really one of the names they talk about," Blixt told Reuters after shooting a level-par 72 in the Players Championship second round on Friday.
"But I am trying to sneak up there and maybe be a name when it (Ryder Cup team selection) comes down to it.
"If he (European captain Paul McGinley) picks me, he picks me. If I automatically qualify for the team, I qualify. I'm going to give it my very best and see what happens."
The nine automatic selections for Europe's 12-man team will come from the top four players in the European order of merit points list and the leading five in the world rankings. McGinley will then complete his lineup with three wildcard selections.
Blixt, who has climbed to 35th in the world after highly impressive displays at the last two major championships, knows he faces an uphill task if he is to book his place on the team to take on the U.S. at Gleneagles, Scotland from September. 26-28.
"Making it via the European order of merit is obviously really hard because I am playing two tours and I don't get to play that many tournaments over there (in Europe)," said Blixt.
"So I am just trying to get as many world points as possible and then see if that's enough."
Asked how much the 2014 Ryder Cup was on his mind, the Swede replied: "Not at all when I am on the golf course. You can't think about stuff that could happen on the golf course.
"But you do plan a little bit accordingly and practise accordingly for the tournaments that really matter to Ryder Cup selection. So it's absolutely on my mind. I would really love to make the team."
Blixt is renowned for his superb short game, a talent that would certainly give Europe a welcome boost at the Ryder Cup where putting brilliance is a prized commodity.
He claimed his career second title on the U.S. circuit at the 2013 Greenbrier Classic, but has commanded even more attention at the last two majors.
Blixt finished fourth at the PGA Championship in August, after making just his second start in a major, then tied for second on his Masters debut in April.
"The majors are very special and very hard, and I think you have to use your imagination a lot when you hit those shots around the greens," the short-game expert said.
"And those shots have been working out pretty well for me so far. I just had good weeks during the majors and you certainly get a little more inspired when you play in those events."
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Gene Cherry)
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