Donald the diplomat appeals for overhaul of Ryder Cup selection

Players sympathise with Casey as Montgomerie is accused by Tour director of 'bottling it' over selection

The Ryder Cup recrimination duly followed the Ryder Cup rejection yesterday, with one member of the European Tour's board of directors accusing Colin Montgomerie of "bottling it" by selecting Padraig Harrington over Paul Casey and another of the wild-card picks, Luke Donald, slating the qualifying system.

The Europe captain stated on Sunday that his dozen to face America in four weeks' time would not please everybody – and so it proved. Donald did not direct his ire at the man who selected him alongside Harrington and Edoardo Molinari as the three wild cards, but instead the process which decided the top nine who automatically go to Celtic Manor.

"I feel especially bad for Paul, being No 8 in the world, third at this year's Open, great match-play record," said Donald. "I think how it went this year the European team has to look harder at the qualification system and whether it's the correct way to do it. If we win it's very beneficial for the European Tour in terms of their image and finances. So it's in their best interests that they have the best side."

Donald is particularly concerned that the European professionals based in America are operating under too much of a disadvantage. The top four qualify by right on a "world points" list, then the next five qualify through the "European points list".

The same players tend to top both lists, but while a tournament anywhere in the world can count for the world points list, only European Tour events qualify for the European points list. So players such as Casey and Justin Rose, who play fewer European Tour events but who excel in the US, are at a disadvantage.

Furthermore, with the standard of the European Tour being lower than that of the US, it is easier to come fifth-to-ninth on the European points list than on the world list.

If the system was flipped – the first four taken from the European points list, the next five from the world list – then the top nine would have included Donald, Harrington, Rose and Molinari, leaving Montgomerie able to pick all of his world top 25 players.

"Golf is becoming a world game and I understand they want to protect the European Tour," said Donald, the world No 11, who has played four tournaments in Europe this year. "But at the same time the top guys are going to want to play against the best players in the world no matter what and you shouldn't be penalised for that."

Whether the powers-that-be will change the system is doubtful as it would effectively give the "world players" even less incentive to play on their home tour. But what they definitely should alter is the timescale of the announcement. As Montgomerie had to declare his picks just one hour after Molinari had prevailed in the Johnnie Walker Championship, it meant the Scot did not get the chance to tell the wild-card contenders of his decision. It led to farcical scenes which should be avoided, even if that entails delaying the announcement 24 hours.

As it proved, Donald found out from a photographer on the 10th tee and Casey discovered his bad news when the wife of playing partner Harrington gave her husband the thumbs-up – and gave a sympathetic look to the Englishman. Casey was forced to play the last 11 holes holding back the tears and did incredibly well to keep his game together to finish with a 69. Ironically, Harrington shot a 75, meaning Casey moved even further ahead of the Dubliner in the rankings.

Many were mystified at Harrington's inclusion at the expense of Casey. Montgomerie outlined his reasons. "I had to look at the pairings involved and who plays with who," he said. "You'd have to say that Paul Casey is very much more a fourballs man than he is a foursomes man and that I think would have limited his role."

Casey might well query that perceived weakness, seeing as he and Donald produced one of the great foursomes rounds with a 64 to lift the World Cup in Seville in 2004. The 33-year-old had the opportunity to ask a few questions when Montgomerie eventually got hold of him on Sunday just before midnight. The conversation was apparently not the warmest.

Both would be interested in the comments of Rob Lee, the former Tour pro who is now a member of the European Tour's 12-man board of directors. "I don't think Monty had the bottle to leave out Harrington and Casey should have been the pick," said Lee, a Sky Sports analyst. "When you look at Harrington's record over the last couple of seasons with Casey's, they are incomparable. Casey is the world No 8 and Harrington the No 19, I don't think Europe has ever left a top 10 player out of a Ryder Cup side – it is incredible."

He added: "Harrington has not won a match in the last two Ryder Cups and has missed three cuts out of the majors this year. On many fronts Casey is the man who comes out in front, yet Monty has picked Harrington. I think for Montgomerie it was a lot harder to leave out Harrington than Casey. I don't know if he's picking his mate but Monty's quote was three majors in the last three years when no majors in the last two years is more accurate."

Lee's statement is just what Ian Poulter does not want to hear. After being at the centre of a wild-card controversy two years ago – when he was given the nod over Darren Clarke – the Englishman is desperate for a united front this time around. "I'm gutted for Justin and Paul – they are two great mates and golfers," said Poulter. "Would Paul and Justin have been in my picks? There's a very good chance. But I don't want to get into that whole scenario. Let's be together as a side and not get torn apart in the next two weeks in the newspapers. That's all I hope."

If European selection policy was 'flipped'

What team would look like

Actual Ryder Cup team

Lee Westwood

Lee Westwood

Martin Kaymer

Martin Kaymer

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy

Graeme McDowell

Graeme McDowell

Edoardo Molinari

Ian Poulter

Luke Donald

Ross Fisher

Ian Poulter

Francesco Molinari

Padraig Harrington

Peter Hanson

Justin Rose

Miguel Angel Jimenez

Wild-card picks:

Wild-card picks:

Paul Casey

Padraig Harrington

Ross Fisher

Luke Donald

Francesco Molinari

Edoardo Molinari

No Casey, no Rose: the view from across the Pond

I am sure the picks that Colin made were made with great thought and much difficulty. Padraig, Edoardo and Luke are excellent choices to strengthen an already strong European team. Corey Pavin, US captain



Monty raised some eyebrows with the selections. Left off the squad were two huge names: Justin Rose, having his best season ever, and Paul Casey. Both players, interestingly enough, play their golf in America, not Europe. If that had anything to do with Monty's decision, he wasn't saying. Bleacher Report (US sports website)



It was a day of oddities in professional golf. Paul Casey being left off the list was a strange occurrence. Chicago Tribune



The selections brought up all sorts of questions about the European selection process and whether the 12 best players available are on the team New York Daily News

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