Europe’s Ryder Cup Team.
There are 12 players in the Ryder Cup sides of Europe and the United States. A full compliment of American players are already odds on to be playing in the matches at Gleneagles next September while nine Europeans look almost certain to be competing in Scotland. That leaves just three places potentially available from either side and Victor Dubuisson, Matteo Manassero and Paul Casey can all be backed at more than 2/1 to be selected by qualifying or from a captain’s pick.
By the time the next Ryder Cup is played Scotland could be an independent country but it is unlikely any of the spectators’ compatriots will be appearing over the three days of the most prestigious team event in the sport. Marc Warren is the shortest priced Scot to make Europe’s team but you can get 25/1 that he plays next autumn. Paul Lawrie played last time but 66/1 is the lowest price in the market for the 1999 Open champion to play in what might still be part of the United Kingdom or could be a new separate country to rest of the UK.
The 2014 Ryder Cup will be the 40th renewal of an event that began as a match between the best players from Great Britain and Ireland and the United States. The contest has become more competitive since Continental European entered the fray in 1979. Paul McGinley and Tom Watson are respectively the first Irish captain and oldest captain to lead the best dozen golfers from Europe and the States.
The qualifying process for Europe’s 2014 Ryder Cup team has already begun. Points are awarded on the basis of one point per Euro from the Wales Open in August 2013 to the Italian Open in August 2014. Four players will qualify from the European Points List. A further five players will make the team on the basis of world ranking points and the captain can select three players of his choice who have not qualified by right.
The selection process for the Ryder Cup has varied over the years. Initially selection was based on the decision of a committee but later qualification based on performance was introduced. Jose Maria Olazabal had two discretionary invites to use in 2012 but McGinley has more latitude as he can call upon one more player who has not accumulated enough points to qualify automatically. Watson also has three wildcards that he can add to the mix.
There will 28 points to play for at Gleneagles next year, comprising of eight fourballs, eight foursomes and 12 singles. Since 1979 a player can play a maximum of five matches. Everyone plays in the singles but unlike the President’s Cup, a captain does not have to select any player before the singles.
Some captains like to give everyone a match before the final day but others decide the pairings purely based on form and ability. Historically a captain who likes to see each of his team members play in the two man matches gets better overall results than a captain who might only select a player for the singles.
Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose, Ian Poulter, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood are 1/20 or lower to make the European side and it would take injury or a severe loss of form to prevent any of the quintet not being measured for the suits and playing gear at the end of next summer. Rory McIlroy looks the most vulnerable but even if he does not win another point he will get a wildcard pick from McGinley.
Graeme McDowell, Luke Donald, Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer are also odds on to get the call and at the odds Garcia and Kaymer look to have most to fear. McDowell is proven at the highest level and holed the putt that won the Cup at Celtic Manor in 2010. Donald’s short game makes him an obvious pick but the other two should not yet put the last week in September in the diary for a trip to Scotland.
In the past Garcia has taken a lengthy sabbatical from the game when he loses enthusiasm for his profession. He was his effervescent best in the 2012 Ryder Cup and made a valuable contribution to his side’s point’s tally, beating Jim Furyk in the singles. However, his mood might change again and even the buzz of the Ryder Cup might not be enough to make him take to the course.
Kaymer holed the deciding putt in 2012 but that also followed a dip in form. He is a major champion and former number one but his place in the team might be at risk from younger players with better recent form. McGinley might also look elsewhere when deciding who to recruit from the cast of qualifiers without sufficient points to receive the automatic invite.
Dubuisson was back in the pack before winning a Final Series event and being placed in another. He won enough points in two weeks to be half way towards the projected target to make the team but a dip in form due to mental letdown would put his place in jeopardy. More likely to get a wildcard are Manassero and Casey which means another player currently not being considered could enter the equation.
Manassero is the youngest player to win four times on the European Tour. His game is more based on accuracy than distance and his short game will be an asset in fourballs and foursomes. Casey is a former Ryder Cup player who looked back to his best when winning the Irish Open this season. Both could qualify by right but would also be in the forefront of McGinley’s mind when he considers giving three players a call to say they are a captain’s pick.