European captain Jose Maria Olazabal told Padraig Harrington on Thursday that he needed "to at least win" the Barclays Championship in New York if he expected to play in the Ryder Cup.
Harrington is determined to impress Olazabal in the Irishman's final event before Olazabal names his two wildcard picks for the September showpiece on Monday at Gleneagles.
Harrington posted a seven under par 64 on the Bethpage Black course and less than an hour later Olazabal signed for a six over par 78 on the first day of the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.
The Scotland tournament is the final European Ryder Cup counting event with Belguim's Nicolas Colsaerts the only player who can change the current make-up of the leading 10 qualifiers on the Ryder Cup points table.
Harrington teed-up in New York lying 19th on the points table and knowing his only chance of competing in a seventh straight Ryder Cup is to win Olazbal's favour of a wildcard pick.
However most observers believe Ian Poulter, lying 11th on the table, and Colsaerts, next at 12th, will be offered the picks.
"Nicolas has a lot of work still to do as there are still three more days to go," said Olazabal.
"It is actually similar to what happened last week with Sergio (Garcia). Nicolas did well last week in finishing seventh over there, and travelling late on Monday to get here to Scotland, so he didn't have much practice this week, and still managed to score well.
"So, if he stays fit and mentally strong, he might win, we'll have to wait and see."
However, Olazabal wasn't as forthcoming in his assessment of Harrington's chances of being a part of his Medinah team.
Olazabal had stated at the recent PGA Championship that Harrington needed to do something "extraordinary" if he were to travel to Chicago with the European team.
He was then asked to define the word and stated: "At least a win."
It will be a tall order for Harrington given the Irishman has not won on the tour since capturing the 2008 PGA Championship.
Australia's Brett Rumford and Norwegian Knut Borsheim played alongside each other to end their rounds with five under par 67s to head the Gleneagles field on Thursday.
Confirmed European Ryder Cup stars Paul Lawrie of Scotland and Francesco Molinari of Italy, are in a group lying in third place at four under par.
Colsaerts is already well placed in a group on three under par and knowing that if he were to finish first or second at Gleneagles he would automatically qualify for the European team, and as the only rookie in the side.
"I am very happy as I was in control of my game all day and this is the start that I wanted and something without too much stress," said Colsaerts.
"The only thing I can do this week is to make sure of what I do and not worry about the others. But then it is difficult not to think about the Ryder Cup and it's getting pretty intense as I've been in this situation for a couple of weeks.
"I played well in America and then I came back here and I have the media all over me all the time, so it makes it difficult not to think about the Ryder Cup."
Colsaerts, who highlighted his round with four birdies in five holes, is playing the first two rounds alongside European vice-captain and defending Johnnie Walker champion, Thomas Bjorn who shot a 70.