As Olazabal wished, Europe alters its Ryder Cup qualification system

jose maria olazabal
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Jose Maria Olazabal believes that the chances of the best players qualifying automatically will be enhanced by the revised points system.
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PA Sport

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Published: Tuesday, February 08, 2011 | 12:31 p.m.

New European Ryder Cup Captain Jose Maria Olazabal has been given what he wanted for next year's defense of the trophy in Chicago -- only two wild cards and a change to the qualifying system.

Colin Montgomerie asked for three wild cards for Celtic Manor last October, but still faced a situation where he had to choose between Padraig Harrington, Luke Donald, Paul Casey, Justin Rose and Edoardo Molinari.

Casey and Rose missed out despite the former being the world No. 9 at the time and the latter having won twice in America.

Olazabal believes that by selecting five players off a European Tour money list first and then going to a world ranking points list for the next five -- for Montgomerie it was the other way round and only four from the world list -- the chances of the best players qualifying automatically will be enhanced.

"I am very pleased that the Tournament Committee has agreed to my request," said Olazabal. "The only reason that I asked for a change in the criteria is because I believe that it will give me the strongest team possible to defend the Ryder Cup.

"I looked over the last few qualification processes, going back to 2004, and was satisfied that my proposal would give me the strongest team on paper,” he explained. "We are going to have a very strong team, but I just felt that this would give the team the best chance to keep the Ryder Cup and that is what we all want.

"At the end of the day, it is the players who are the stars and it is the players who hit the shots and win the points to win the Ryder Cup,” he added. "I would like to thank the committee for their support and I hope that this is the first step to us retaining the Ryder Cup in 2012."

Qualifying starts in September and runs through to the end of August next year.

Olazabal could still face the same problem that Montgomerie did in the final week, however.

The PGA Tour event that week does not count for cup qualifying, but Harrington, Casey, Donald and Rose all still opted for a FedExCup playoff tournament last year instead of the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.

The change means the top five players to make the 2012 team will come from the European Points list, which is money earned in the 12 months before the matches. The next five players would come from the World Points list, which is world ranking points accumulated during the same time.

Previously, the top four came from world ranking and the next five from European Tour money. Had this change been in place last year, Padraig Harrington and Justin Rose would have earned spots on the team, while Peter Hanson and Miguel Angel Jimenez would not have qualified.