Harrington happy as Ryder Cup qualification period is frozen but also extended

Europe’s 2021 Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington is happy with changes to the qualification period
Padraig Harrington is happy with changes to the qualification process after the Ryder Cup was put back until 2021. Picture by GETTY IMAGES

THE Ryder Cup qualification period and process has been frozen following today’s announcement that September’s clash between Europe and America has been put back until 2021.

Qualifying points already earned in the race to make European captain Padraig Harrington’s team for the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits will carry forward to next year.

Points can be earned via the European and World lists from January 1, 2021, with the Ryder Cup now taking place from September 24-26 next year.

And the European Tour’s Tour Committee – which approved the changes – has agreed that more points will be awarded in key events closer to the cut-off in qualification.

Harrington’s prospective team members will benefit from points mulitpliers – almost certainly in certain Rolex Series events and possibly one or more of the Majors – in 2021.

A European Tour spokesman confirmed: “One or more points multipliers may be introduced during the course of the 2021 European Tour season to ensure that strong performance closer to the match in September 2021 is given added importance.

“These will be agreed once the 2021 European Tour schedule has been announced and communicated to the membership prior to January 1.”

‘Players shouldn’t be forced to play’

EUROPEAN captain Pádraig Harrington said he was more than happy with the changes to the qualification period.

The Ryder Cup will now take place at Whistling Straits in 2021
The Ryder Cup will now be played in 2021

He spoke after the match at Wisconsin’s Whistling Straits was finally pushed back for 12 months following confirmation fans would not be able to attend the three-day match, which is one of the world’s biggest sporting events.

Harrington said: “I think the proposals that have been outlined today are fair to all players involved in the qualification process – whether they have already amassed points, or will be looking to do so from next January onwards.

“The 2020 season has already been heavily disrupted, and may continue to be further impacted, by a number of COVID-19-related issues in terms of travel restrictions, quarantine regulations and individual personal concerns.

“I feel players should not feel under pressure to play and therefore the points tables should not apply from now until the end of the year from a schedule that could change further.

“However, while that is the case, notable performances will still very much count in my considerations for picks as I maintain a keen interest in the form of all possible Ryder Cup team members in tournaments on both sides of the Atlantic.”

The Ryder Cup qualifcation period began at the 2019 BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth

No points from events opposite Rolex Series

QUALIFYING for the 2020 Ryder Cup started at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, back in September.

The spokesman added: “As in 2020, qualification points will not be available anywhere in the world during 2021 from a tournament played opposite a Rolex Series event.

The rule was introduced to “enhance the status” of the European Tour’s premier events.

There will be no other modifications to the qualifying criteria ratified by the Tournament Committee last year.

So the first four qualifiers for Harrington’s team will come from the European Points list – the next five from the World Points list with the captain having three wildcard picks.

The changes extend the normal length of the qualification period plus a further two months, as January and February in both 2020 and 2021 will now count.

The end of the qualification period will be confirmed when the 2021 Race to Dubai schedule is announced later this year, the Tour said.

It normally comes in the final Tour event in the last week of August, three weeks before the Europe meets America.

Paul McGinley was thrown in the lake by the 18th green at The Belfry after holing the winning putt at the 2002 Ryder Cup
Paul McGinley holed the winning putt at The Belfry in 2002. Picture by STUART FLETCHER

Ryder Cup will now be played in odd years

ALL future Ryder Cups will now be played in odd years going forward – as was historically the case up until 2001.

The Euorpean Tour and PGA of America, who share organisation of the match which dates back to 1927, confirmed the switch after Wednesday’s announcement about the Whistling Straits match.

The Ryder Cup was last postponed in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York, nearly 20 years ago, in 2001,

The match was played at The Belfry in 2002 with Europe producing a rousing Sunday singles display before Paul McGinley holed the winning putt for Sam Torrance’s team.

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