European Tour boss Keith Pelley has vehemently defended the changes in the European Ryder Cup Qualifying process which reduce the number of events a player must play to be eligible for membership from five to four, not including the Majors or World Golf Championships.
Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour, said he did not feel this represented further dilution of the European Tour brand but the opposite.
"No, I totally do not see it that way in any way," he said, referring to the requirement for membership being reduced from 13 events including Majors and WGCs to five events outside those big events and now to four.
"First and foremost, I think the 13, or however you counted the WGCs and the majors, was false counting. I couldn't figure that out. I understood why you did but it was actually detrimental to actual members that fell out of the Top-50.
"And our members, and many of our members, are world-class players that play on both tours. There are a lot of restrictions put on them on the U.S. tour. But at the same time, the way that I look at this, moving from five to four, which I think is also, when you break it right down, you have to be very, very confident if you're only going to play four.
"Because if you only play four, and you finish out of the Top 60 if you're counting DP World as one of them, so the real number is more five.
"And you know, staying intact is that you have to play your nation's tournament, or that's worth another two. So I don't see it at all like that. I see it that we are recognising now that we have global members.
"While at the same time, I think that this will encourage some of the other Top-50 players to consider playing on our tour with the emergence of the Rolex Series.
"I see it totally the opposite."
In a statement, Pelley said: “The change to our minimum tournament requirement will help many of our members who play around the world but who, at the same time, wish to remain loyal to The European Tour.
“It will enable them to remain in membership in what are extremely exciting times for The European Tour with the advent of the Rolex Series, one of the most important and significant developments in our 44-year history.”
In addition to the change to the Tour’s membership regulations, the Tournament Committee also approved three important changes to the qualification process for Europe’s 2018 Ryder Cup team.
Firstly, there will be a greater weighting for points earned in tournaments in the latter stages of the process to help ensure the European Team reflects those players in form nearer the time of The Ryder Cup itself.
Race to Dubai points and World Ranking points earned in these tournaments will be multiplied by 1.5 for the two respective qualification lists with the first counting event to benefit from this increased weighting in the 2018 season being the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
With the 2018 schedule not as yet finalised, the last counting event in the quest to make Thomas Bjørn’s team bound for Le Golf National in Paris in September 2018 is not confirmed, but the starting point will be the D+D Real Czech Masters at the Albatross Golf Resort in Prague from August 31 – September 3, 2017.
Secondly, following the introduction of the Rolex Series, no Ryder Cup qualification points will be available from tournaments staged anywhere in the world played in the same week as these events in both 2017 and 2018.
While this change takes into account the significance of the Rolex Series for the European Tour, it also recognises it will mean fewer qualification points being available globally outside of these tournaments, hence Captain Bjørn will have an extra wild card pick at his disposal for the 2018 team – the third change.
It means the 12-man European Team for The 2018 Ryder Cup will comprise the first four players from the European Points List, followed by the leading four players from the World Points List and completed by four wild cards.
Outside the specific changes to the qualification for the 2018 team, the Tournament Committee upheld the current general stipulation that a player must be a European Tour member to be eligible to play for Europe in the biennial contest against the United States.
Furthermore, the committee also introduced a new regulation stating that players cannot be a European Ryder Cup Captain or a Vice-Captain if they decline membership of the European Tour or fail to fulfil their minimum event obligation in any season, from 2018 onwards.
Bjørn said: “I am delighted that the Tournament Committee passed these regulations which I believe will considerably benefit the European Ryder Cup team in 2018 without compromising the strength or importance of the European Tour.
“In my role as chairman of the Tournament Committee for the past ten years and now as Ryder Cup Captain, I fully appreciate the need to balance both of these essential elements, and I think we have managed to do that.
“Part of the reason for my appointment last month was to, as soon as possible, begin the process required to regain The Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in 2018, and these changes are the first step on that journey. Hopefully they will help me have the 12 best European players available in 20 months’ time.”
In recognition of the demands on his time as Ryder Cup captain, Bjørn stood down as Chairman of the Tournament Committee on Tuesday night – a position he has held since 2007 – with former Ryder Cup player David Howell unanimously voted as his successor.
In summary, the decisions taken by the European Tour Tournament Committee are:
European Tour Membership
- Membership criteria of the European Tour to be dropped from five tournaments to four tournaments (outside the Majors and WGCs) for the 2018 season.
Qualification for The 2018 Ryder Cup Team
- Ryder Cup qualification points (both R2D Points and World Points) to be multiplied by 1.5 for tournaments later in the qualification process. The starting point for this will be the BMW PGA Championship in 2018.
- No Ryder Cup qualification points will be available from tournaments staged anywhere in the world opposite Rolex Series tournaments in both 2017 and 2018.
- Qualification for the 2018 team to change to four players from the Ryder Cup European Points List, four from the Ryder Cup World Points List and four Wild Card picks for Captain Bjørn.
Ryder Cup Qualification – General
- Players must be a member of the European Tour to be eligible to play for Europe.
- Players cannot be a European Ryder Cup Captain or a Vice-Captain if they decline membership of the European Tour or fail to fulfil their minimum event obligation in any season, from 2018 onwards.