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US-based players face fight for spot at next Ryder Cup

If Paul Casey and Co hoped it would become easier to qualify for the Ryder Cup they were badly mistaken. In fact, it will become even more difficult for the US-based Europeans to make the 2012 team after Tour membership rules were changed yesterday.

In a meeting on the eve of the Portugal Masters, the European Tour's players committee voted to increase the number of compulsory events from 12 to 13. Furthermore, three of these events must be played in continental Europe.

In effect, it may mean players such as Casey and Justin Rose – who were both controversially overlooked for the recent match at Celtic Manor – having to choose between the FedEx Cup and membership on their home tour.

As its, Rose has found it hard to satisfy the 12-event rule this season and last week had to resign his membership for this season. However, the Englishman was told he could rejoin next season and that has caused consternation amongst the rank and file of the tour. This move can be seen as Europe getting tough on its stay-away stars.

Casey is actually a member of the Tournament Players Committee which effected the change. He was not in the Algarve and was understood not to be aware of the increase. He will undoubtedly have been surprised as it was only last year that it was upped from 11 to 12. How he and the other "Stateside Euros" will react will be interesting.