Rickie Fowler might have more to play for than anyone else this week at The Barclays. And I don’t just mean because he’s inching up on the one year anniversary of his last PGA Tour win either.

Fowler, who last won at the Deutsche Bank Championship last September, shot a 4-under 67 on Thursday at Bethpage Black as he played his way towards the Ryder Cup in Round 1 of The Barclays. His round included three birdies and an eagle to go with a lone bogey.

He’s currently one stroke back of leaders Patrick Reed and Martin Laird.

[embedded content]

Fowler admitted that he can’t stop thinking about the Ryder Cup.

“100 percent, all of it,” said Fowler when asked how much the Ryder Cup is on his mind. “That’s the No. 1 priority coming into the year. I’d say that’s always one of the main goals for sure coming into a Ryder Cup year. Even in the off year, you’re thinking about it. That was the whole reason playing last week, trying to get more points.It would be nice to have a chance to make that team without having to get picked.

I mean, you’d be lying if you’re saying there’s not more [pressure]. Yeah, I’m thinking about it. The other guys are thinking about it. So if it’s even on your mind at all, not that it’s pressure in a way, but it’s more to think about. I don’t mind it. I’ve always liked kind of being put up against the wall in a corner and having that on me. Going out, I knew that getting off to a good start today was going to be key. I’m in a position where I’m kind of put in a corner where I need to either earn my way on the team, or at least prove that I should be there.”

That’s the advantage Fowler has over, say, J.B. Holmes, Jim Furyk and Matt Kuchar. Everyone (including U.S. captain Davis Love III) is dying for Fowler to be there. Love said as much in a recent press conference referencing the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor.

“I don’t know how far down Rickie was in 2010 in Wales, but he got picked because his putter was hot and everybody wanted him on the team,” said Love.

Given Fowler’s position this time around — one of the members of the Ryder Cup task force — I presume the same is true in 2016 as was true in 2010. Fowler has been in the top eight (which automatically qualify) for most of the last two years before recently falling to No. 12. He’ll get the benefit of the doubt even if he doesn’t win at Bethpage when Love chooses three of his four captain’s picks in two weeks.

Speaking of winning at Bethpage, it sounds like Fowler would rather be on the Ryder Cup team than win The Barclays. Who can blame him?

“I think The Ryder Cup speaks for itself,” said Fowler. “It’s the greatest team event we have. It’s arguably the best event we have all year, or every two years. The stage it is, U.S. versus Europe, 12 best from each side; it’s like all the guys going to war. We are all friends and stuff and it’s fun, but it’s fun to go try and beat up on each other and celebrate afterwards. Unfortunately, I haven’t been a part of a winning team yet, but it’s a special event and something I don’t want to miss out on.”

With three more good rounds in New York, he won have to.

Source: CBS Sports Headlines / Rickie Fowler starts hot at The Barclays with Ryder Cup on his mind