Euros refine Ryder Cup captain selection process

Paul McGinley is Europe’s captain for the 2014 Ryder Cup.

Changes to the way Europe selects its Ryder Cup captain should make selecting the man to lead Europe much smoother and less controversial.

A five-man panel will now select future Ryder Cup captains rather than the 15-man tournament committee, the European Tour announced today. The system will be in place in time for the 2016 match.

The new panel will comprise the three previous Ryder Cup captains – Paul McGinley, Jose Maria Olazabal and Colin Montgomerie – European Tour chief executive George O’Grady and one member of the tournament committee, to be nominated by the committee.

The tournament committee made the decision at its last meeting, held during the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart. The Board of Ryder Cup Europe has ratified the change.

“This decision has come after a series of Tournament Committee meetings and, after much reflection, it was felt that this change would see the most suitable candidate being invited to follow on from Paul McGinley at Hazeltine,” said Richard Hills, Europe’s Ryder Cup director.

“The job of Ryder Cup Captain is an ever expanding and ever demanding role, and I think this decision perfectly focuses the three vital ingredients required in any selection process.

“These are: the immediate experience of the three past captains which brings six years of vital knowledge to the table; the office of the chief executive of the European Tour, which outlines the wide-ranging political and practical requirements; and the tournament committee representative who will, having canvassed his colleagues on Tour, bring the feelings and wishes of the players to the discussion.”

The change comes after the particularly volatile selection process of McGinley for the 2014 captaincy. There was much infighting and lobbying among committee members in the run-up to the decision reached in Abu Dhabi earlier this year. Heading into that meeting, McGinley was one of three candidates along with Darren Clarke and Montgomerie.

Clarke, a member of the tournament committee, dropped out of the race before the meeting when he realized he didn’t have a majority of support among the 15- committee members. The Northern Irishman then pushed hard for fellow committee member Montgomerie, but to no avail.

Rory McIlroy and others publicly backed McGinley, and in the end the Dubliner was the unanimous choice. However, it was a particularly unsavory process that cast doubt on the European Tour’s Ryder Cup harmony.

The issue had also become a huge albatross hung around 15 men every two years. Tournament committee chairman Thomas Bjorn had been hinting that perhaps the task of selecting Europe’s captain was too onerous for the players.

While politics and favoritism could obviously come into play in the new process, there is less chance of that with fewer players. The five-man system should work smoother than trying to get 15 players to agree every two years.

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