Padraig Harrington gets wish as captain's picks for 2020 European Ryder Cup team go from four to three

May 08, 2019

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As he intimated shortly after his appointment in January, European Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington will add only three captain’s picks to the nine automatic qualifiers that will make up the Old World’s 2020 team at Whistling Straits. At a meeting of the tour’s Tournament Committee earlier this week, the Irishman’s desire to reduce his options from four to three was ratified, along with confirmation that the year-long qualifying period will begin at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth this September and end at the same event in 2020.

Some things have not changed though. Which makes sense, given that Europe has won nine of the last 12 biennial contests with the United States, including a 17½-10½ stomping at Le Golf National near Paris last year.

As before, the qualifiers will be drawn from two lists. On this occasion, the first four will come from the “European” points list (accumulated exclusively at European Tour events); the next five from the “World” list (with points gained for starts on any tour). Points for both will be multiplied by 1.5 at a time to be confirmed close to the end of qualifying. But no points will be awarded from events anywhere in the world should they clash with the European Tour’s “Rolex Series” tournaments, which this year consists of nine events—the Abu Dhabi Championship, the Irish Open, the Scottish Open, the BMW PGA, the Italian Open, the Turkish Airlines Open, the Nedbank Challenge and the season-ending DP World Tour Championship.

All of which is part of European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley’s on-going battle to get star names such as Rory McIlroy, Francesco Molinari, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, Jon Rahm, Paul Casey, Tyrrell Hatton, Henrik Stenson, Thorbjorn Olesen, Alex Noren and Ian Poulter to play as often as possible on their home circuit rather than the more financially beneficial PGA Tour. In other words, all of the 2018 European team.

Harrington’s motivation for the reduction in captain’s picks appears to be simple enough. Over the years the man in ninth place has always ended up being selected, so providing that individual with the psychological boost that comes with automatic qualification is both desirable and beneficial.

“I have said on many occasions that one of the reasons for recent European success in the Ryder Cup is continuity,” said the three-time major champion. “It is a theme that will be prevalent across my captaincy and I think you can see that in the overall qualification process for the 2020 team. Having said that, I am pleased that the Tournament Committee agreed to the change of wildcard numbers. I have spoken to a number of people regarding the ninth player automatically qualifying for the team and in my experience, a player is more comfortable when he has qualified, hence my reasoning behind this change.”

The 43rd Ryder Cup will take place Sept. 25-27, 2020.