Skip to main content

A corona-inspired Ryder Cup plea: Make every team member a captain's pick

Getty Images

One by one, some of Europe’s most prominent voices are calling for a one-year postponement of the Ryder Cup.

Paul Casey, Tommy Fleetwood and Graeme McDowell – they’ve all made sensible arguments.

How can there be a legitimate qualifying process without a dozen or so scheduled events?

“It would be fairer in qualification terms for it to be pushed back,” Fleetwood recently told the London Times.

Fairer, sure, but postponement would also spoil the opportunity for a grand experiment in these unprecedented times.

And so we ask: If the qualification process is unraveling, why have one at all?

Put the onus on the captains – USA’s Steve Stricker, Europe’s Padraig Harrington – to determine the 12 players on each team.

For years, these handpicked leaders have been derided as figureheads, sharing blame and responsibility with their assistants. They usually only get three or four chances to shape their team – and even that is a joint decision. The partnerships now seem to be left up to the players themselves.

So much autonomy might be daunting, but having 12 wildcard picks would allow the captain the freedom to craft the roster that he wants, however he sees fit. It’d inject even more intrigue into a golf season that, once this global pandemic passes, will desperately need it.

Golf Central Update: McIlroy suggests using OWGR for Ryder Cup

Golf Central Update: McIlroy suggests using OWGR for Ryder Cup

With golf on hiatus for at least the next two months – and likely even longer – there’s little use for a points race. Consider what’s happening on the U.S. side. Qualifying began last year but only included the majors, The Players and World Golf Championships. This year, players were supposed to receive one point per $1,000 earned in regular PGA Tour events, with the bonuses bumped up in the big events: two points per $1,000 earned for the winner, 1.5 points for everyone who made the cut.

The U.S. points system was slated to end after the second FedExCup playoff event on Aug. 23. That sounded reasonable a month ago. Now? The Players was canceled, at least two majors have been pushed into the late summer or fall, and it’s possible, maybe even likely, that they’ll have no more than 10 counting tournaments remaining.

The European Tour schedule has been rocked by the coronavirus just as hard, if not harder: So far, they’ve canceled or postponed 10 events. It doesn’t seem feasible to resume play with the same qualifying cutoff, knowing that there’s fewer point-scoring opportunities.

So why not blow it up and try something new?

Want a bunch of long hitters to tackle big and brawny Whistling Straits? Your call.

Prefer to load up on stellar iron players? That’s fine, too.

Thinking about rostering a couple of lights-out putters? Good idea.

For the first time, captains wouldn’t be constrained by outdated results. They wouldn’t need to jam together unfamiliar partnerships. They wouldn’t be hampered by toxic personalities. These would be their teams, not the product of some points system. Just imagine the delicious weekly drama and player lobbying.

Would this be fair? Of course not. It’d be a highly subjective process. It might devolve into a popularity contest.

But the objective is to win – their best versus your best. May the shrewdest captain prevail.