One of sport's biggest events gets underway in less than two weeks with Europe still yet to finalise their team for the Ryder Cup.
Why The European Ryder Cup Qualification Process Is All Wrong
The BMW PGA Championship is the European Tour’s flagship event but, having looked at the coverage, you wouldn’t believe it!
Going into the tournament, the remaining Ryder Cup spots for Team Europe are set to be decided at Wentworth, with a whole number of permutations and places still up in the air.
Because Team Europe’s automatic qualifiers still remain firmly in the balance, and the fact that captain, Padraig Harrington, will be finalising his team shortly after the climax of the event of Sunday, it’s taking away the thrill and glory of one of the gems in the European Tour calendar.
A Rolex series event always draws big crowds and big players, especially at such an established tournament as the BMW PGA, but the first half an hour of Saturday’s coverage was solely about the Ryder Cup, not the fact that there were such a good mix of players at the top of the leaderboard.
What’s more, it’s putting unnecessary stress on the European players who, in less than two weeks time, will be participating in one of sport’s biggest and global events.
Lee Westwood mentioned after his round on Friday that “the way we’ve set up the qualification this time around there are too many variables,” and that “some of the guys turning up don’t need this week right now, knowing what the Ryder Cup is like, they don’t need this week, two weeks before the Ryder Cup.”
Usually we would see the Ryder Cup qualifying finish at a minor event in Denmark or perhaps the Czech Republic, when the automatic spots would then be finalised. The potential wildcards would then have a chance to impress at one of the most prestigious competitions in the European Tour’s calendar.
This year however, it’s different, and with the addition of double points added to the mix at Wentworth, which Harrington devised, it leaves viewers and players with a mathematical headache trying to work out where certain players have to finish if the results go a certain way.
The inclusion of double points could also lead captain Harrington with a selection dilemma, with the likes of Shane Lowry, Lee Westwood, Bernd Wiesberger and Justin Rose all battling it out for an automatic spot, leaving them unsure of where they need to finish in order to qualify.
Lastly, USA’s captain, Steve Stricker, has the luxury of six wildcards, with Harrington stuck at three, a factor that could be beneficial to the US team thanks to the Covid-hit 18 months we’ve endured.
When the opportunity was there for more picks, it is understood the risks were put to him, but the Irishman kept with his system, with supporters arguing that it makes for a gripping and tense Wentworth. However, I think it does the opposite, overshadowing and taking away the drama and thrill we get from this fantastic tournament.