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Don't change Ryder Cup system to suit stay-aways

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Iain Carter | 14:59 UK time, Monday, 13 September 2010

Paul Casey was controversially left out of the Ryder Cup team

Paul Casey's near miss in the final play-off event of the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup series served to highlight that Europe will be going into next month's Ryder Cup without their strongest team.

Indeed, it was already abundantly clear that the current system for selecting the continent's team did not produce the best possible line-up when the likes of Casey and Justin Rose were left out of the Celtic Manor clash.

This was an issue when captain Colin Montgomerie was deciding which three players should accompany the leading four qualifiers from the world points list and the five highest earners on the European Tour money list to make up the dozen who will face the US on 1-3 October.

With hindsight it clearly made sense to flip the order of the selection criteria. But only if the be all and end all is victory by putting together a side that consists of the 12 best European golfers.

At first glance that would seem to make perfect sense, but now - thanks to an observation by Tiger Woods - I have changed my opinion.

If the selection is done with the lists in the opposite order the net result is that you guarantee places for more of the highest accumulators of world ranking points. Performances in the rank and file European Tour events outside majors and WGCs count for less.

So in this case Monty would not have needed to pick Padraig Harrington or Rose and there would have been room for him to select Casey as one of his wildcards.

It creates a stronger looking team, but it also weakens the Ryder Cup. Here's what Woods said when he was asked to compare the Euro-American clashes with the Presidents Cup where the US takes on a Rest of the World team.

"The biggest difference between the two cups is the players on the Presidents Cup team all play on the PGA Tour full time. Last year Ryo (Ishikawa) was the only player who didn't," Woods observed.

"Ryder Cup is different. A lot of players play over here but a lot of them still play in Europe. So it's a little different atmosphere. I've played in three away matches - in Spain, England and Ireland and certainly the atmosphere is great. It's fun to play in front of crowds that are that excited."

And why is there such an excitable buzz about the Ryder Cup? Well ultimately because it is about us versus them. It is harder to achieve that concept when all 24 players play the same "skedule" (as they all call it), play "good" rather than well and when roughing it constitutes having to share the same courtesy car.

It's also one of the reasons why the Seve Trophy matches don't have a similar passion as a Ryder Cup. It's the same blokes who see each other week in week out having a match together rather than a clash of continents and cultures.

That's why it is important to have Miguel Angel Jimenez in Monty's team even though the three-time winner this season has a lousy Ryder Cup record. The same applies to unproven rookies Peter Hanson and Francesco Molinari - players who would have found it much harder to make the line-up if the qualifying tables were turned.

The Ryder Cup loses a lot of its lustre if it simply becomes a match between our PGA Tour players and theirs.

It is vital for the health of the European Tour that its players can be shown to be competitive in environments like the Ryder Cup and it was equally important that the message was sent to our American-based players that there are no guarantees of playing in it if you stay away from counting events having not qualified.

And let's face it, 2010 is already one of the proudest years in the Tour's history and will be regardless of the result at Celtic Manor. Graeme McDowell (US Open), Louis Oosthuizen (the Open) and Martin Kaymer (US PGA) are living proof that the schedule orchestrated on this side of the Atlantic is perfectly capable of spawning major champions.

Sadly for the Tour, all three major winners are likely to take up PGA Tour membership in the wake of their successes. The result could be that someone like Kaymer will be contesting the play-offs next season rather than defending the Dutch Open title he has just won.

This is not to blame the German - he is perfectly entitled to chase a $10m pay day. But were he to make such a decision, can it be construed as good for the European game?

This is why the bosses at Wentworth have to stand up for themselves, and in so doing the European Tour's most potent weapon is the Ryder Cup. It is imperative that they maintain a qualifying system that discourages players from becoming, well, too American.


  • Comment number 1.

    Quite agree Ian.

    Why should we favour the money grabbers over the loyal, maybe plodders, from over this side.

    At least Luke Donald made the effort to support the European Tour, coming over and doing very well while he was here. I could be wrong but aren't they supposed to be representing the Tour in The Match. I heard an interview with Rose just this week saying that the US now felt like home, and as they say 'Home is where the heart is', maybe he should be representing the US tour now??

    Why all the fuss about Casey as well, he's a bottler, as was proved last night and The Open, he's a decent player who thinks very highly of himself!! Better without him!

  • Comment number 2.

    I agree with YOUWHAT, Casey is a choker and always seems to capitulate when under pressure.

    That coupled with the fact that he wishes he was American!!

  • Comment number 3.

    I fully agree with you Iain, your right, it is all about the different cultures playing an event with a great rivalry and tradition. I fully support Montys selection itself and its process as a whole. Maybe both teams should have announced there picks at the same time but hey, with our strength they can have that extra week or so if they so need. Also its not as if Paul Casey didnt have the option of playing extra events to have earned an automatic pick, you only have to look at Miguel Angel Jimenez decision to enter the final qualifying event to earn his place. Bad luck Paul good luck Europe.

  • Comment number 4.

    When you select a side for match play you look at historic records and current form. Harrington would not make my team on both counts.

  • Comment number 5.

    i strongly disagree YOUWHAT that casey is a choker, someone that is ranked number 7 in the world is far from being a choker! he lost to dustin johnson(who i think will have a massive ryder cup) who has contested in the last two majors, once where he blew up on the last day and one where he had a two shot penalty!

    you cant blame casey, rose,donald,westwood,mcdowell,mcilroy,poulter from playing on the USPGA tour as its a more lucrative for them, if someone asked me to do my job abroad and to get paid alot more to do it id jump at the chance!!

  • Comment number 6.

    Iain I thoroughly agree with your argument about making sure that the selection process supports the European Tour as much as possible. However, Monty has shown double standards in his selection. Admittedly Casey is predominantly on the US tour, but so is Harrington who has played 3 less games on the European Tour than Casey. Both chose the Fedex cup over a trip to Gleneagles and Harrington got the spot, not based on committment to the European Tour but because Monty likes Harrington more than Casey. Monty has a huge amount of wisdom and respect and knows exactly what it takes to win ryder cup matches...and the cup itself, but the one thing that may let him (and Europe) down is his biased view on players based on favouritsm ahead of form.

  • Comment number 7.

    its all rubbish that these guys play in teh US for the dough, they all have enough money , thye probably cant tell you to the nearest million how much they have, they play there cos the weather is generally better , they are treated better on and off the course and the standard is better, end of:

  • Comment number 8.

    Karlwbrown why do you think they are treated better and the standard is better in the US?

    Could it have something to do with the extra money on offer to pay for a higher quality service, extra staffing...and to attract a higher standard field? If it's not the money that attracts a better field, then it must simply come down to the weather...but I don't see the best players in the world staying away from gale force winds and rain at the Open, so I guess that rules that one out.

  • Comment number 9.

    You sound like a bassackwards John Kerry, Iain, you were against it before you were for it.
    What is difficult to explain is that Casey played one more European Tour event this year than Luke Donald (or Poulter) and three more than Harrington (six more than Rose). Not to mention having been handicapped for the first 3 months of the qualifying season by injury.
    There has got to be priority given to the European Tour but in that case consistency also needs to be applied.

  • Comment number 10.

    I fail to see how 'a stronger looking team...weakens the Ryder Cup.' The current qualification system always produces a team with a weak tail. If the powers that be want to ring-fence the European tour and discriminate against world class European players who play in A Class events in America when B class events are running the same week in Europe, so be it. The flawed system certainly doesn't work in getting such players to play in Europe when the chips are down, so it fails on two counts. And so inevitably it doesn't produce the strongest team. In essence it is saying that the European tour should be prioritised over and above the Ryder Cup. The problem is particularly acute this time round as (a) there are far more world class players from Europe plying their trade in the USA, and why shouldn't they? That is how they maintain themselves as world class players, by honing their skills in competition with the very best; and (b) the final few results in Europe - especially the Czech Open and the Johnnie Walker at Gleneagles pushed the best players out of the automatic qualifiers, and must have been sod's law for Monty. The outcome was particularly unjust as regards Paul Casey, now No 7 in the World, and Justin Rose, now No 7 on the US PGA money list. Both should have been preferred as wild cards to Harrington (11 losses in his cumulative Ryder Cup CV, and that includes when he was playing well, and only 1 pt in his last two appearances) and Eduardo Molinari. All right, Molinari had a fabulous finish at Gleneagles 'five minutes before wild card time'; pity for Rhys Davies he didn't have his Celtic Manor 62 'five minutes before' the choices were made. Casey, Donald and Rose should have been the three wild cards - end of story.

  • Comment number 11.

    At least Harrington has proved he can close it out when it matters, unlike Casey last night and at the Open. Once again he flattered to decieve. Considering the talent he has he must be the biggest under-achiever in golf.

  • Comment number 12.

    muirfieldgroupie; had you said "Molinari, Harrington and Donald WERE the three wild cards" you could have said "end of story" and nobody cold have argued.
    However, although Casey was unfortunate to miss out to Monty's old fourballs partner, Rose is as American as apple pie and I can't remember the last time he won anything away from 'home'. Both sides are strong and it looks like a great battle in the offing- time to stop moaning about who missed out and enjoy it. I hope Poulter fourballs with Ed Molinari to highlight team unity.

  • Comment number 13.

    The stupid thing about the current system is that it as put in place to allow those who stay away to qualify, yet both lists are dominated by those who win the tournaments that qualify for both.

    Surely a fairer system would see both lists treated with equal respect, 1st from both, then next highest from both, then next, until you have 8 players. Give the captain 2 picks and the European tour two picks, if they want t select next in line on their list them so be it. This would be fairer and produce a better team..

  • Comment number 14.

    I really don't see your point: Casey has played more european tour events than Harrington... and he even missed a part of the season!

    And if you look at past results in the Ryder Cup, current form, world standings, plus commitment to the european tour: Casey is always on top...

    The only arguments "against" him: he has already been a captain's pick in 2008, and hasn't won 3 majors in the past... but it has absolutely nothing to do with the fact he's more a "stay-away" than Harrington or Donald... Rose is the only man who could really be considered as such, and even so, he's still a very talented european player as well...

    If you want the system to be FAIR and SIMPLE, why not take the first 4 on world rankings, the first other 4 on european rankings, and then 4 PICKS, just as the US?

    And no matter if the 4 picks play more in Europe or US (they all play in most majors and WGC's anyway): they should be picked for their current form and their talent (especially in match play) to create the strongest european team possible... nothing less, nothing more...

  • Comment number 15.


    I agree with your sentiments.

    Perhaps there's room for another team competition - pitting full time European Tour players against full time US PGA tour players. That would make for close matches I think.

  • Comment number 16.

    Oh dear. This simply will do. Heads will have to role for this.

    Wikipedia has it wrong again.

    See, its' entry for The Ryder Cup runs thus:

    "The Ryder Cup (officially the Ryder Cup Matches) is a golf competition between teams from Europe and the United States. "

    I must head over there forthwith and change it to somthing like this:

    "The Ryder Cup (officially the European Tour Benefit Matches) is a golf competition designed to raise the profile of, and make money for, the European Tour. It deliberately employs a warped selection process so as to reward golfers for playing in low-profile Euro Tour events with weak feilds. Furthermore, it seeks to actively penalise any European golfer who dares try to compete on the USA-based PGA TOUR, where 99% of the best players from the parts of the world that are not Europe, play their regular golf."

    And there was silly old me thinking for all this time that the Ryder Cup selection process was about selecting the twelve best golfers. How ignorant of me.

    No wonder Paul Casey didn't seem that bothered whether he played in it or not.

    I take it Iain Carter can be considered (in wikipedia parlance) a verifiable source? I'll change the entry ASAP!

  • Comment number 17.

    Iain, the next time you have to pay a lot of money to watch a Ryder Cup, as I'm doing this year, you might change your view. For this outlay, I want to watch the best Europeans, cheer great golf from them and see us win - simple as that! The selection process doesn't support that and Ross1980's comments say it all. If we hadn't put out our best team over recent years, there wouldn't even be a Ryder Cup today.

  • Comment number 18.

    If Casey's form was that much better and he has played three more european tour events, then why was Padraig still ahead of him in the world points list and almost equal with him in the european points list? Harrington hasnt been playing that badly this season. He has had something like 8 top tens and the events he didnt do well it was mainly due to him making double bogeys and worse (those big numbers arent going to cost him in matchplay). His form just seemed bad compared to what we were used to. The same can be said of Tiger, most other golfers would be delighted with the results he has this year. Two top fives in the majors is nothing to sniff at.

  • Comment number 19.

    I'm late to this blog and I thought it only right and proper to address the balance here AND to put a word in for the pro's. Iain your articles and observations are some of the best in golf - until this one. And to be influenced by Woods shows a singular lack of judgement. Woods argument holds very little water.
    I know with some authority Pro's are mercenary creatures. They go where the money is. So whoever it was that said Casey isn't playing there for the money is both naive and doesn't know golf. That and the Majors are the only reason foreigners go to US. Not for the quality or variation of the courses. If they want that, they can stay in Europe. And that is one the reasons why Americans can't and don't travel. They want pristine courses and the same conditions week in week out. They don't want to play a links course more than once a year. They don't need to...BUT don't penalise Brits/European golfers for pursuing their profession.
    Bloggers here should lose the jingoistic British/European attitude..get in the 21st century. Golf is a global game. (Same applies to the Yanks as well)
    There is still a big discrepancy between the money in Europe and the money in US. That's why they go...QED
    The PGA Tour is richer for the likes of Rose, Casey, Poulter, the Aussies and the other foreigners. Look at any PGA event this year. The majority of the top 20 are foreign - ALWAYS! Almost half the field of the Players Championship is made up of non Americans.
    For me this points issue is blatantly simple. One global points list. Scrap a 2 list system. You can accent the points on certain European events if you want, then you can limit the Captain's picks as well.
    Oh and Casey should be playing - what complete idiot said he wishes he were American? Total misquote. Harrington, as Woods, should have had the good grace to sit it out.

  • Comment number 20.

    I think there is a lot of poor logic in this blog. Firstly, Casey is only arguably better than Donald or Harrington, not definitively. He has had some good weeks and some poor weeks, and no wins in the US. A stronger case could be made for Rose, but his form has gone to pot.

    Casey, Rose and Donald have pretty much never been European Tour players. Casey and Donald went through the college system in the US and got settled into that tour and life as quickly as they could. Their homes and families are in the US in a way that was never the case for Faldo, Lyle or Woosnam.

    The European Tour will never be as lucrative as the US tour because it cannot command the TV audience. Nevertheless, it will always be a route for talent to come out of European countries and to improve their skills, get confidence and learn to win. Then they will head to the US, as most of the best players have done since Jacklin and Oosterhuis. The Euro tour has a few events that will pull players back occasionally, but the US tour is always going to be the honey pot.

    I do not buy the dedcution from Woods' point. The (mainly British and Irish) crowd are excited at the Ryder Cup because it is a match with some tradition, some rivalry and an expectation of excitement. The Seve trophy has no history and is an obviously inferior product and no-one much cares about the outcome. I could not tell you who won the last version, or the last President's Cup for that matter.

  • Comment number 21.

    it is interesting !

  • Comment number 22.

    As an aivd supporter of European golfers versus the Americans at any time the Ryder Cup is always an especially exciting event. However I have to admit I was fuming when Monty announced Harrington as a wild card pick over Casey (or Rose) and I think it is an absolute disgrace.

    What possible justification can there be? Ryder Cup pedigree? Hardly, Harrington has no wins from the last 2 events. So what sort of player do you want in the Ryder Cup team in Wales in October?

    The weather will likely be damp and chilly and the ground soft. So someone who flies it miles? Casey is number 1 on the PGA Tour for shots in to the green from outside 200 yards!

    What about someone who putts well? Casey is number 1 on the PGA Tour for putts inside 10 feet with a success rate of 90.6%! Casey has contended in the majors this year and is in the top 10 in the world. Where is Harrington? Yes he has won 3 majors, one of them he even played well in, the other 2 he more or less stole from Garcia who played the far superior golf. It was obvious then that a top golfer cannot continue to spray the ball around and rely on a miraculous short game and so it has proved.

    Even the experience argument doesn't wash. At the Tour Championship this week there are 9 golfers in their 20's out of 30 and that doesn't include the likes of Casey, Rose and Donald who are all in their early 30's. Golf is a young mans game now!

    Harrington should have had the good grace to make himself unavailable if he has the best interests of the team at heart and the qualification system should immediately be changed to ensure that a travesty like this never happens again. The US players must have been looking at the world rankings and tour results this year and almost thinking they had no chance going in to the Ryder Cup. Now they must be wetting themselves! No Casey, no Rose, instead they must be trembling at the thought of playing the likes of Harington and Hanson. What an anti climax.

  • Comment number 23.

    If Harrington loses every match and we lose by one point I will put all the blame on Casey. He could have easily played a couple of European tournaments but instead decided to either play in the US or rest.

    I feel the European side is far stronger than the US so Monty was able to make a stand against the likes of Casey and Rose, who do not deserve a place on the team because of the contempt they have shown towards the European tour.

    Casey considers himself too big to be excluded, let's hope for his sake he has learned from his error in judgment.

  • Comment number 24.

    WaldoSpur I suggest you check your facts. Casey missed a fair chunk of the qualifying period through his rib injury last year during which time he was scheduled to play events on the European Tour. Despite this, over the qualifying period he played in more European Tour events than either Harrington or Donald and still managed to be ranked considerably higher in the World than Harrington. Harrington could also have chosen to play in more European Tour events. Neither Casey or Rose have shown contempt for the European Tour. Rather they choose to play against stronger competition trying to improve themselves and their chances of winning major titles. And you want to criticise them for this.

  • Comment number 25.

    Casey could have played the Czech open but decided not to that was his choice, nobody else's. Casey has a good record in the RC and he might be missed but Harrington, by winning three Majors has showed his bottle, something that's lacking in Casey's game for all to see. These so called top players who apparently we can't do without could have played a couple of times on the European tour. If they are so much better than the European based players, then surely they would have won? It is clear that Casey thought, like last time he would have got a pick, well he didn't and that's his own fault.

    If the RC is so important for him then Casey should have tried a bit harder to qualify. I think Europe will win comfortably as the US crumble when they're out of their comfort zone. When the rain and the cold of Wales hit them and not having their own xenophobic drunken supporters to back them up, I'm convinced they will come up well short.
    Your prediction of an anti climax I think is wrong and when Europe win I hope you come back on here and admit your point is completely wrong, I will if by some miracle the US win.

  • Comment number 26.

    It's not as simple as that. Players can't necessarily just drop everything and fly half way round the world to play in an event. Even if they did they would most likely be jet lagged and underperform. The top players schedules are worked out months in advance and they have sponsors commitments to fit in between.

    Besides my point was that you cannot defend Harington and then say Casey has shown contempt for the European Tour when Casey played more European Tour events. That's illogical. And whether Harrington plays well or not, I can guarantee the Americans would rather play him right now than Casey which gives them an unnecessary boost, whih is an anticlimax to the selection period.

  • Comment number 27.

    I won't deny that Casey is in better form than Harrington but it's not as though Monty has picked a no hoper instead of the world number one. Casey has won just once on the PGA tour, in Houston, with no Woods, Mickeleson or Stricker playing. The Americans have also seen Casey bottle it when in contention time after time. Harrington shot a 64 last Sunday so he seems to be coming into form at the right time.

    I was a bit over the top by saying Casey and Rose had shown contempt for the European tour, what they did do though was to expect Monty to pick them regardless, especially Casey.

  • Comment number 28.

    Personally I would have picked Casey ahead of Harrington as well. Rose on the other hand has no case. He is ranked lower in the world points list and rankings than any of the wild card picks. At the end of the day all of them failed to qualify on merit so were open to be disappointed.

    However, I was bemused by the contention that Harrington had stolen two of his majors from Garcia who played superior golf. I thought tournament golf was about taking fewer shots than your opponent. Otherwise we'd have them in a driving range. Its about mental strength and I suspect that if you were in the final pairing of a major you'd be a lot more worried about an opponent who might steal a win without playing his best than a great ball striker who brought wrapping paper and ribbons.


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