US modify Ryder Cup qualification as Steve Stricker given six captain’s picks

It had previously been planned that eight players would qualify automatically alongside four picks

US modify Ryder Cup qualification as Steve Stricker given six captain’s picks
Steve Stricker will captain the US at Whistling Straits this September (Richard Sellers/PA)

The United States have changed their qualifying criteria for this year’s Ryder Cup, with six players earning selection through its points list while the remaining six will be chosen by captain Steve Stricker.

Previous processes have seen eight qualify through the points system, which is based on prize money won in important tournaments, while the captain’s picks would make up the remainder of the team.

However, the coronavirus pandemic which has led to 11 cancelled events on the PGA Tour in the last few months, has led to a rethink.

US modify Ryder Cup qualification as Steve Stricker given six captain’s picks
Team Europe won the 2018 Ryder Cup (Adam Davy/PA)

The BMW Championship, which concludes on August 30, will mark the cut-off for points accrued through the season for US selection for the Ryder Cup, scheduled to take place from September 25–27 at Whistling Straits.

“With all the various changes to the 2020 schedule, it quickly became apparent that we would need to amend our selection criteria,” Stricker said.

“After many deliberate discussions, we collectively agreed that a smaller sampling of 2020 events — including just one major championship — would justify a one-week extension of the qualification window and an increase in the number of captain’s selections from four to six.

“These changes were sparked by circumstance, but conceived with integrity in mind. In the end, we believe they will allow us to put our best team together to compete at Whistling Straits in September.”

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The PGA Tour will resume this week, with the Charles Schwab Challenge at Fort Worth, Texas, the first event to be held after a three-month hiatus and one that will go ahead behind closed doors.

There is considerable opposition to playing a Ryder Cup without fans, though, with world number three Brooks Koepka suggesting he would consider pulling out of any such event.

Koepka, a team member in 2016 and 2018, said: “I don’t want to play if there’s no fans. The fans make that event. The fans make that special.

“If we’re not playing in front of fans, it’s just like us playing a game in Florida. If there’s no fans out there you’re not going to see guys fist-pumping and that passion behind it. Yes, I love to play for my country, I love to do all these things, but it’s important to have the fans there. We feed off it.

“I just don’t want to play it without fans.”

US modify Ryder Cup qualification as Steve Stricker given six captain’s picks
Brooks Koepka would happily withdraw from a behind-closed-doors Ryder Cup (Niall Carson/PA)

Europe’s star player, world number one Rory McIlroy, does not believe anyone will ultimately have a decision to make about declining a call-up.

He has long spoken against holding the event in a bubble and is now more confident than ever that it will not take place as planned without fan involvement.

“I’m pretty sure they won’t carry on without spectators, so I don’t think that would have to be an option that I would have to consider,” he said.

“I don’t think I’ll be put in that position to make that choice. I think there’s enough people within the game that don’t want the Ryder Cup to happen without fans, that’s why I sort of have this conviction that it wouldn’t happen if fans wouldn’t be allowed.”

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