By Mark Lamport-Stokes
AKRON, Ohio (Reuters) - A breakthrough victory at this year's Memorial Tournament cemented David Lingmerth's belief that he was "good enough" to compete at an elite level and the Swede now has his sights set on next year's Ryder Cup.
Lingmerth has climbed to a career-high 59 in the world rankings after a successful PGA Tour season highlighted by three top-10s in 23 starts and he would dearly love to represent Europe for the first time at Hazeltine National in late 2016.
"It's absolutely on my radar," the 28-year-old from Tranas told Reuters after carding an even-par 70 in the opening round of this week's WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club.
"I'm still not a member of the European Tour, which I have to be to get Ryder Cup points, but I've talked to my manager about it. If I become an affiliate member after the Race to Dubai is over this fall, I can start earning Ryder Cup points.
"That's definitely something I am thinking about and I would be very honored to make that European team. It's one of my big-time goals."
Lingmerth, who clinched the Memorial title in June by beating Justin Rose in a playoff, accepts that his playing schedule for next year will need a lot of tweaking if he plans to compete on both the European and U.S. circuits.
"It would definitely change but just having that win at the Memorial and having a free year, so to speak, here on the PGA Tour makes me a feel a lot better about trying to pursue that Ryder Cup team," said the Swede.
"So I'm going to give it a go."
Lingmerth extended his fully-exempt status on the PGA Tour until the end of the 2016-17 season with his Memorial triumph, a breakthrough victory that was underpinned by a superb display that week on the greens.
"I putted really well there," said the Swede, whose uncle Goran Lingmerth, was a kicker for the Cleveland Browns in the National Football League. "I have putted that well before but maybe not under those circumstances being in the final group on Saturday and the second-to-last group on Sunday.
"It was just good to get that feeling that I could make those pressure putts.
"I haven't necessarily being putting great since then but when you get that first win and you get your confidence up, it can do crazy things with your overall game."
Lingmerth's Memorial win, his third top-10 in 23 starts on the 2014-15 PGA Tour, has also led to him revising his personal objectives for this year.
"Getting that first win was a big goal but it would be huge to get to play in the season-ending Tour Championship (for the top-30 players)," said the Swede, who sits 22nd in the FedExCup standings.
"Obviously the majors are huge and I want to play in them and contend in them but getting into the Tour Championship is also a big deal ... getting to play there would get me into a lot of tournaments next year. It's a nice insurance to have."
Lingmerth, who played college golf at the University of Arkansas where he was a two-time All-American, has established strong roots in the United States but says he will always be a Swede at heart.
"I am definitely Swedish, and I'll always be Swedish," smiled Lingmeth, whose wife, Megan, is American.
"I try to go back to Sweden at least once or twice a year to see family and stuff like that. But I adjust well to my surroundings so I am sure the American culture has set its tone in me too."
(Editing by Steve Keating)