It must have been a sobering experience as the USA brushed aside the Europeans at Hazeltine to win the Ryder Cup. Europe, once such a dominant force at the biennial event, were swept to the side with such ease it must have been painful for those involved. However, there were clearly issues.
Since the turn of the Millennium Europe swaggered into the cup. At Hazeltine, their heads bowed, defeated. Davies Love III got his redemption with a 17-11 victory that was dominant from the moment the first ball was hit. Darren Clarke was ultimately dealt a mixed hand, Davies Love III held the flush.
The mixed hand that Clarke had to work with began with qualification process. Four from the World points list, five from the European points list and three of his own picks. Danny Willett’s Master's victory propelled him into the team despite in general fall in form between that Major win and the Ryder Cup. Then there was the issue of rookies. Six of them to be exact. With five earning their places Clarke’s picks revolved around experience.
The qualification process hurt European chances. It was a previous system that produced victory but you can only paper over the cracks for so long.
With Thomas Bjorn taking over the Captaincy for the 2018 Ryder Cup he made an immediate hint that he was considering reviewing the qualification process. That has now happened.
Rather than three Captain’s picks, Bjorn will now have four. The move aligns the European captain alongside his rival USA captain. To make for this the European points list will be reduced from five to four. The World points picks remains unchanged.
For Bjorn, it is about ensuring the best team without damaging the European Tour He said: “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, and 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.”
The Rolex Series will also be placed centrally to the plans. Players participating in the Rolex Series will have a greater chance of earning their way in. If a player opts to play in an event outside of the Rolex Series during the same week then they will receive no Ryder Cup points. Qualification point will also rise as the competition draws closer.
"From my own experience," Bjorn said, "when you make all your points in November and December the year before, it can be quite daunting to play in the Ryder Cup when you haven't played particularly well for three or four months coming into it."
Following the failure at Hazeltine, the Europeans have acted quickly to change the process. However, one rule remains the same...Players must be a member of the European Tour to even be considered. So if Paul Casey is reading this, you know where you stand.