Golf: Ryder choices reduced to two

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The Independent Online
BERNARD GALLACHER, reappointed as Europe's Ryder Cup captain, will not enjoy the luxury of having three wild-card selections for the match against the United States in Rochester, New York State, in 1995. Instead his discretion will be limited to two choices with 10 players, rather than nine, qualifying automatically.

The Ryder Cup committee - Gallacher is a member - has made the adjustment in response to broadening the qualification process. In future, money won by European Tour players in the three American Major championships, the Masters, the US Open and the US PGA, will count in the Ryder Cup table.

'With more of our leading players competing in the American Majors the time is right to include them in the qualifying,' Ken Schofield, the executive director of the Tour, said. He added that the onus on his members was still to play their way into the 12- strong team.

Lanny Wadkins, who has replaced Tom Watson as the United States captain, also has two wild-cards but in other respects the selection system between the teams differs. The Americans qualify over two years and only top-10 finishes count. The European countdown begins in September and reaches its conclusion 12 months later. Every pound won represents a point.

Had the change been made this year the composition of the European team who were defeated 15-13 at The Belfry last September would barely have changed. Jose-Maria Olazabal, on the strength of finishing seventh in the Masters at Augusta, would have gained an automatic place instead of being one of Gallacher's selections.

There are some in the game, Gallacher included, who are not averse to having the leading 12 money-winners qualify automatically. The option remains open to him. That, however, would have meant the omission of Seve Ballesteros from the last team.