Ryder Cup 2018: Europe to increase wildcards from three to four

Europe’s Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn will have four wildcard picks for his team in 2018.

The increase from three is among several changes the European Tour has made to its qualifying criteria for the event at Le Golf National in France.

Tournaments in the latter half of the season will carry weighted points, helping in-form players to qualify.

Players will also only have to play four tournaments instead of five to retain their Tour membership.

Only European Tour members can be selected for the Ryder Cup.

The 12-man European team for next year’s competition will comprise the first four players from the European points list, the leading four players from the world points list and four captain’s picks.

The qualifying process for the event – to take place from 28-30 September – will begin from the Czech Masters in Prague in August this year.

The changes were announced following a meeting of the European Tour’s Tournament Committee in Abu Dhabi.

Bjorn said: “I am delighted the committee passed these regulations, which I believe will considerably benefit the European Ryder Cup team in 2018 without compromising the strength or importance of the European Tour.”

The United States added a fourth wildcard pick for last year’s event, when they ended a run of three successive European victories by winning 17-11 at Hazeltine.

Analysis

Thomas Bjorn appears to have found a delicate formula that benefits both his team and the European Tour.

The extra wildcard pick increases pressure on the captain’s shoulders, but makes it less likely that a big name player misses out.

This was the danger once it was decided that events elsewhere that coincide with the new Rolex Series tournaments on the European Tour will not count for Ryder Cup qualification.

It is a move that encourages Tour stars to compete in events such as the BMW PGA Championship, French, Irish and Scottish Opens rather than chase FedEx Cup points on the PGA Tour.

Weighting Ryder Cup points to make them a third more valuable in the final four months of qualifying is also sensible because it will help ensure the players who qualify are in form at the time of the match.

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