Playing in the same group in the first round of the Omega European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre in Switzerland, Paul produced a strong start in his bid to oust MacIntyre in the final qualifying event.
The 29-year-old carded a six-under-par 64 - he sits one behind six co-leaders - while a last-hole bogey left MacIntyre having to settle for a 68. Pole Adrian Meronk, the third member in the group and another of the players still in contention for that automatic berth at Marco Simone Golf Club, signed for a 67.
“Obviously there's a lot of (Ryder Cup) talk going on, but for me it didn't really matter who I was playing with,” insisted Paul, who will jump above MacIntyre on the European points list if he wins on Sunday but, failing that, needs to finish in a tie for third with two others to have a chance of pipping the Oban man at the post.
“So many things you can't really control. I just try to see it as a normal tournament and enjoy it, be grateful and, if I feel like that, I tend to play my best golf. ”
Two-time winner Matt Fitzpatrick, who is bidding to claim the last automatic spot off a World Points list by leapfrogging Tommy Fleetwood, is part of that logjam at the top of the leaderboard.
A bogey-free opening effort from the world No 8 saw him set the pace in the Alps along with compatriot Eddie Pepperell, Dane John Axelsen, Spaniard Nacho Elvira, Malaysian Gavin Green and Japan’s Masahiro Kawamura. “I played brilliant,” said Fitzpatrick. of his afternoon’s work.
Swede Ludvig Aberg, a contender for one of Donald’s six picks, sits alongside Paul after producing another eye-catching performance in the company of Ryder Cup vice-captains Edoardo Molinari and Nicolas Colsaerts.
Helped by a burst of four straight birdies to finish his front nine, Scott Jamieson also carded a 64, one less than Connor Syme while Stephen Gallacher (66) sits in the top 20 as well.