Ryder Cup - Olazabal overhauls qualification

Tue, 08 Feb 16:56:00 2011

Europe's controversial qualification process for the Ryder Cup has been overturned on the advice of new skipper Jose Maria Olazabal.

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The top five from the European Tour's order of merit will now qualify automatically with the next five highest players on the world rankings next to win automatic selection for golf's biggest team event against the United States.

This is a reversal of the previous system.

The captain will pick the remaining two players as wild cards rather than three under the old system.

Previously, the top five ranked European Tour players were the first to qualify for the team which regained the biennial trophy last October in Wales. Four from the world rankings also won automatic selection.

Last year, Paul Casey missed out on Europe's 12 in Celtic Manor despite being ranked world number seven at the time.

"I am very pleased that the (Tour) tournament committee has agreed to my request. The only reason that I asked for a change in the criteria is because I believe that it will give me the strongest team possible to defend The Ryder Cup," said Olazabal in a Tour statement.

"I looked over the last few qualification processes, going back to 2004, and was satisfied that my proposal would give me the strongest team on paper.

"We are going to have a very strong team but I just felt that this would give the team the best chance to keep The Ryder Cup and that is what we all want."

In 2010, Europe's then captain Colin Montgomerie left out not only Casey but also Justin Rose, who had won twice on the US Tour, to help accommodate three wild card picks: Luke Donald, Padraig Harrington and Edoardo Molinari.

Montgomerie said afterwards that he thought the selection process should be changed giving the captain more of his own choices.

"That was a terrible day for me, it really was," Montgomerie said of the selection day when he named his wildcards.

"It should have been an exciting day. But it wasn't. It was a very poor day, having to leave out players and the way it was done. I had to tell people on the golf course in America - world players - that they couldn't play."


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