Four Captain's Picks: European Tour Unveils Membership Regulation Changes Impacting On Ryder Cup, Rolex Series
Thanks to reader ST who stumbled on this middle-of-the-night, past-deadlines European Tour posting of major membership regulation changes that will impact the Ryder Cup and many players who juggle time on multiple tours.
The key element: four (instead of five) European Tour sanctioned events outside of the majors and WGC's must be played to qualify for Ryder Cup eligibility. There is more.
Firstly, there will be a greater weighting for points earned in tournaments in the latter stages of the process to help ensure the European Team reflects those players in form nearer the time of The Ryder Cup itself.
Race to Dubai points and World Ranking points earned in these tournaments will be multiplied by 1.5 for the two respective qualification lists with the first counting event to benefit from this increased weighting in the 2018 season being the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. With the 2018 schedule not as yet finalised, the last counting event in the quest to make Thomas Bjørn’s team bound for Le Golf National in Paris in September 2018 is not confirmed, but the starting point will be the D+D Real Czech Masters at the Albatross Golf Resort in Prague from August 31 – September 3, 2017.
This is an obvious reaction to so many players not sniffing the 2016 team while playing so well, or, in the case of Thomas Pieters, requiring a captain's pick.
Secondly, following the introduction of the Rolex Series, no Ryder Cup qualification points will be available from tournaments staged anywhere in the world played in the same week as these events in both 2017 and 2018.
Nice move by the Chief to protect his newly-announced series of events and to offer a little more incentive. Now the bad news...
While this change takes into account the significance of the Rolex Series for the European Tour, it also recognises it will mean fewer qualification points being available globally outside of these tournaments, hence Captain Bjørn will have an extra wild card pick at his disposal for the 2018 team – the third change. It means the 12-man European Team for The 2018 Ryder Cup will comprise the first four players from the European Points List, followed by the leading four players from the World Points List and completed by four wild cards.
This is the most disappointing concession to the increasingly absurd glorification of captains. It's hard to imagine after the first two improvements that many players will be heartened by better qualifying rules while one less qualifying spot is offered.
Darren Clarke reluctantly took Thomas Pieters over Luke Donald. With a fourth pick, is he taking Donald over Russell Knox? If I were betting I'd say yes.
Here's a fun little back room preventive measure for an unforeseen scenario:
Furthermore, the committee also introduced a new regulation stating that players cannot be a European Ryder Cup Captain or a Vice-Captain if they decline membership of the European Tour or fail to fulfil their minimum event obligation in any season, from 2018 onwards.