Top Links:

Get A Golf Handicap

UK Golf Guide

Golfshake Top 100s

Find Golf Travel Deals

Golf Competitions


Community Forum


Tee Times | Search | Reviews


Gear | Tour | Industry Insider


Video Library | Tuition Sections


Join | Log In | Help | Useful Links


The European Ryder Cup Selection Process is Flawed

By: | Mon 21 Aug 2023

As the race to qualify for Europe's Ryder Cup team draws to a close, Golfshake's Derek Clements explains why he feels the process is flawed and how it could negatively impact the chances of Luke Donald being a successful captain in Rome.

FOR the life of me I do not understand the logic behind the timing of the selection of the European Ryder Cup team.

This is golf's premier team competition, bar none. It attracts tremendous support and enormous passion among the 24 men chosen to play. And this year’s contest at Marco Simone will be no exception, especially when you take into account the fact that Europe are still smarting from the bruising defeat they suffered two years ago

So you would want to be sure that you have your best possible team reporting for duty, wouldn’t you?

Luke Donald will announce his side at the conclusion of the European Masters, with the Irish Open and BMW PGA Championship still to be played before the Ryder Cup begins at the end of September.

What happens if Donald names his team and somebody on the fringes of selection suddenly catches fire and wins in both Ireland and at Wentworth? He - and Europe - will just have top suck it up. Surely it would have made more sense for Europe’s team to be finalised after the BMW PGA Championship with is, after all, the DP World Tour’s flagship event.

Make no mistake - this is something that could happen. It has done in the past.

The six automatic selections for the US team were confirmed at the conclusion of the BMW Championship, with Zach Johnson naming his six wild cards after this week’s Tour Championship

At least the Americans have learnt the lessons of history. The US have caught a cold before when, in 2014, Tom Watson named his side and Billy Horschel then finished joint second at the Deutsche Bank Championship, won the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship to claim the FedEx Cup. 

He missed out on the team, who were then roundly thrashed by Europe at Gleneagles. Horschel felt miffed - and had every reason to be so.

Luke Donald

(Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography)

Surely the whole point of selection is to head into the contest with the 12 men in the best possible form?

Form is everything in the Ryder Cup. Too many times in the past both teams have gone into these matches with players whose qualification has largely been secured by terrific early-season form.

Would it not make more sense to start the qualification process later and finish it at the final tournament played before the contest takes place?

Going back to that 2014 match, Jimmy Walker and Bubba Watson were both horribly out of touch and contributed a measly 2.5 points between them. On the European side, Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher did not contribute a single point to his team’s winning total.

In 1999, Mark James did not play Jarmo Sandelin, Jean Van de Velde and Andrew Coltart at all until the final-day singles, when he had no choice but to field at 12 players. 

And guess what? All three of them were soundly beaten, meaning they did not contribute anything to Europe’s cause. 

This was the match when Europe went into the final day leading 10-6 but ultimately lost 14.5-13.5. James defended his tactics, pointing to the fact that Europe had established a four-point lead. Who knows what would have happened if Sandelin, Van de Velde and Coltart had played earlier. But one thing is for sure - the result could hardly have been worse.

Van de Velde made the team largely based on finishing second at that year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie, when he took seven strokes on the final hole. James went to Brookline with seven rookies in his team.

I cannot help but feel that Luke Donald may come to regret the fact that the qualification process was not extended. With all due respect to the Czech Masters and European Masters, they should not be the two events that could define a player’s Ryder Cup hopes.

The Ryder Cup is unlike any other tournament in golf and the atmosphere is something that every golf fan should experience. The experts at Golfbreaks.com can help with all aspects of your Ryder Cup experience, from accommodation and ticket packages to hospitality and travel and playing some of the fantastic nearby courses.

More Ryder Cup Coverage

What do you think? post your thoughts and feedback on the Golfshake Forum: https://forum.golfshake.com/

Tags: ryder cup PGA Tour european tour dp world tour daily picks

Scroll to top