McGinley keeps Ryder Cup format tinkering to a minimum but does opt to bring his wild card picks back up to three
Qualifying structure to remain the same apart from giving himself an extra pick
Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley explains at a press conference at Wentworth why he will have three wild card picks at Gleneagles next year. Photograph: Getty Images
In adopting a tweak rather than a general overhaul of the mechanism that has brought Europe historic riches in the Ryder Cup, Paul McGinley – who has strengthened his hand by deciding on three “wild card” picks rather than two – has, in the main, stuck to a theory he has adopted since his appointment as captain last January.
“If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it,” he has continually repeated since being elevated to the captaincy some four months ago.
And, yesterday, at Wentworth Golf Club outside London – which played host to the Ryder Cup in 1953 and where the Ryder Cup Room has signed team memorabilia on the walls – the Dubliner announced the qualifying structure for next year’s defence of the trophy in Gleneagles will remain the same apart from giving himself an extra pick.
Rather fittingly, all 12 members of the team that staged a dramatic final day singles comeback to defeat the USA in Medinah last September will tee up in the European Tour’s flagship tournament, the BMW PGA Championship, which gets under way tomorrow.
However, the actual year-long qualifying campaign for the Ryder Cup won’t get under way until the Wales Open on September 5th-8th
Although Jose Maria Olazabal allowed himself just two wild card picks for Medinah, McGinley remarked: “I’ve kept the qualification list order the same as Olly had it for Medinah, the only difference being that I’ve increased the number of picks from two to three.
“I’ve done that to give myself a little extra flexibility when it comes to making my decisions. Hopefully this will ensure I have the right players to face the examination paper that Gleneagles will set.”
The first four of the nine automatic places will come off the European Tour qualifying table (from tournaments which count towards the Race to Dubai), with the next four coming off a world points list (including events on the US Tour, Asia and Australia) that will cover the same qualifying period.
McGinley’s three picks brings him into line with US captain Tom Watson. Davis Love III actually had four picks for the match in Chicago but veteran Watson chose to reduce that to three when he got the job.
Moving to three players is a wise move by McGinley, giving him the option – if required – of adding a Scot for home crowd support come the match itself. McGinley has already intimated he will definitely have a Scottish sidekick as one of his as yet to be announced vice-captains.
“I’ve said on a number of occasions that if something ain’t broke then don’t fix it, and I think that applies to the qualification process (for Europe) . . . You only need to look at the record books to see we haven’t done too badly, so I don’t see the need to make sweeping changes,” said McGinley, who received the unanimous support from the European Tour’s Tournament Committee in bringing his wild card picks up to three.