Following Europe’s Ryder Cup loss to the Americans at Hazeltine National last fall, the European Tour has decided to make some significant tweaks to how it will select players for the 2018 match.
Perhaps the most prominent move is giving European captain Thomas Bjørn another wild-card selection, a move that the U.S. squad implemented for last year’s competition. This means that four players will qualify off of the European Points List, four will qualify off of the World Points List and four will be chosen as wild-card picks.
The European Tour also announced a relaxation of its rules for membership. To maintain status, a player must now only play in four tour events outside the majors and World Golf Championships. This number had previously been reduced to five events for 2016.
Other changes to the Ryder Cup qualification process include putting more weight on events that are closer to the 2018 competition in Paris. 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.
Another change is that tournaments played opposite the eight events on the European Tour’s recently introduced Rolex Series will not award Ryder Cup points. This places a greater emphasis on players participating in the tour’s biggest events.
“Part of the reason for my appointment last month was to, as soon as possible, begin the process required to regain the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in 2018,” Bjørn said. “These changes are the first step on that journey. Hopefully they will help me have the 12 best European players available in 20 months’ time.”
Some questioned whether the European team brought its 12 best players to last year’s Ryder Cup, when the team lost for the first time since 2008. Russell Knox and Alex Noren did not make the team despite strong 2016 seasons while one of the hottest European players, Paul Casey, did not satisfy European Tour membership requirements.