Ryder Cup 2016: Rory McIlroy's PGA Tour win a timely boost for Europe

Rory McIlroy and fiancee Erica Stoll
Rory McIlroy won the Deutsche Bank Championship to claim his first PGA Tour title for 16 months

Rory McIlroy's return to winning ways is a huge boost to Europe's chances of retaining the Ryder Cup that begins at Hazeltine later this month.

In a team that contains six debutants, McIlroy has a key role to play if the continent is to successfully defend the trophy.

His stunning Deutsche Bank Championship victory allows the 27-year-old to carry confidence and a renewed and invaluable aura to the Minnesota showdown.

The last thing Europe needed was to have McIlroy arriving at the Ryder Cup still struggling to find a reliable putting stroke.

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Rory McIlroy: Positive-thinking key to Deutsche Bank Championship win

By coming from six shots behind to beat England's Paul Casey, the four times major winner claimed his second and most significant title of the year.

And this after slumping to four over par after just three holes in the opening round. "It's incredible how things can change," said McIlroy.

"It's been a great lesson to me not to get down on myself and to stay patient."

European skipper Darren Clarke will be well aware of his Northern Irish compatriot's ability to ride momentum when he finds his groove.

McIlroy's success at TPC Boston lays the foundation for the rest of his FedEx Cup play-off events in America, the Race to Dubai on the European Tour as well as the Ryder Cup that begins on September 30.

Clarke, meanwhile, will be mulling his likely combinations for the fourballs and foursomes with buoyed confidence that McIlroy can be one of the lynchpins of his side.

There is every chance the man who has climbed back to number three in the world will be asked to shepherd one or two of the newcomers, perhaps including his regular practice partner Andy Sullivan.

In what will be his fourth Ryder Cup, McIlroy is now much better equipped to play the role of talisman after his decision to seek assistance from renowned putting guru Phil Kenyon paid rapid dividends.

The coach, who also advises Open champion Henrik Stenson, encourages his pupils to seek their own solutions to allow the putter to find its correct position at impact.

This is what happened with McIlroy, after he battled back to card a level-par first-round 71 last Friday.

Ahead of the second round on Saturday he made a slight adjustment by moving his right hand more on top of the grip.

A new-found accuracy helped him to rounds of 67, 66 and 65 and a victory he could not have imagined after such an awful start to his opening round.

McIlroy spoke of "excitement more than relief" at the outcome, because he knows there is so much significant golf still to be played this year.

Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler
Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler failed to secure automatic places on the US side

Central to his exciting schedule is Europe's bid for a record fourth successive Ryder Cup victory and Clarke is surely the more comfortable captain at this stage.

While his team is settled, American counterpart Davis Love III is wrestling with four wildcard picks.

The first three choices come at the conclusion of this week's BMW Championship at Crooked Stick in Indiana - and the selections look far from straightforward.

Neither world number seven Bubba Watson or ninth-ranked Rickie Fowler made it into the list of eight automatic qualifiers. They might be top-10 players but they are among a wider group of candidates struggling for form.

Watson missed the cut in Boston and, although he was eighth in the Olympics, has not had a top-10 finish on the PGA Tour since March.

Fowler, meanwhile, squandered a winning position to finish seventh at The Barclays in the first of the play-offs and was 46th last week. A member of the US 'Task Force' assembled in the wake of their 2014 Gleneagles defeat, he needs a big week at Crooked Stick.

That opportunity is not available to Jim Furyk. His injury-hit PGA Tour season came to an end in Boston as he failed to make the top 70 to progress to the next stage of the play-offs.

Love will have the 46-year-old at Hazeltine as a vice captain but will be mindful that Furyk shot a record 58 at the Travelers Championship last month and despite having lost more Ryder Cup matches than any other US player (20 out of 33), possesses huge experience.

Given his lack of competitive golf between now and the Ryder Cup, there is a lot to weigh up with Furyk - and the same can be said of Olympic bronze medallist Matt Kuchar.

He would be a shoo-in if selection was purely based on his famed team room ping pong, but having finished 46th and 64th in the last two weeks his form in the pursuit that matters is hardly compelling.

JB Holmes, a hero when American last won the trophy in 2008, was third at the Open Championship but has endured five missed cuts in his last nine events.

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Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer and Thomas Pieters named as European wildcards

Then there is the prodigiously talented potential rookie Justin Thomas, who is also beset by inconsistency. He has twice failed to make the weekend while collecting two top 10s in the last month.

At this stage, Ryan Moore looks the only convincing choice - seventh and eighth in the first two play-offs, the 33-year-old also won last month's John Deere Classic.

A former US Amateur champion, Moore has a game made for matchplay and he is overdue a Ryder Cup debut. Again, though, he will feel an urgency to succeed this week at Crooked Stick.

We can be sure Captain Love will be monitoring his players' progress knowing that his selections will be far from easy.

Indeed, after all the US introspection that led to the formation of a 'Task Force' aimed at regaining the trophy, the pressure is building for the American skipper.

And, undoubtedly, it has been intensified further by McIlroy's spectacular return to form.