Jason Dufner eyes Ryder qualifying

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Defending PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner is dealing with a neck issue that has kept him from practicing this week at Valhalla Golf Club.

Dufner said he had an epidural on July 28 that led to a poor week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and puts his upcoming schedule in doubt.

A place on the U.S. Ryder Cup team is part of Dufner's motivation for playing this week. He is eighth in the standings; the top nine players at the conclusion of the PGA Championship automatically make the team that will play Europe next month in Scotland.

"I'm not going to qualify if I don't make some points this week," Dufner said. "I seriously doubt I would be a captain's selection with an injury if I didn't play. So I kind of need to suck it up and make some points and try and get healthy.

"I think if I were to make the team after this week, I think I could be healthy by the time the Ryder Cup rolls around."

The Ryder Cup begins Sept. 27. Dufner hinted that he might skip some FedEx Cup playoff events if necessary.

Dufner said his neck issues began at the Masters. They subsided afterward and he contended at the Colonial, where he lost in a playoff to Adam Scott. But the problems resurfaced before the U.S. Open and have not lessened.

"[There is] trepidation from the fact that I haven't been playing good golf, I haven't been practicing golf and I haven't been playing golf," Dufner said. "I'm not afraid; the pain is just a state of mind, but it's really difficult to play when you haven't practiced much, you haven't played much. There's a lot of questions."

Dufner described the situation as an arthritic, degenerative issue "that I'm probably going to be dealing with for a good bit. If I can get six to eight weeks of strength, rehab, resting program, I feel like I can get better. But it's just something that's not going to change. I'm going to have to deal with it."