VIRGINIA WATER, England (Reuters) - European captain Paul McGinley was given a “little bit of wriggle room” after being granted an increase in wildcard selections from two to three players for next year’s Ryder Cup match against United States.
The Irishman asked the European Tour for the change to make sure all bases would be covered for the 2014 edition of the biennial event in Scotland.
“We don’t know what the weather is going to be like,” McGinley told a news conference at the venue for this week’s PGA Championship at Wentworth.
”We knew what it was going to be like in Medinah last year, it was going to be 70-odd degrees with perfect ground conditions with nearly a 5mph wind, maximum 10. We all know Gleneagles to be very different.
“There could be rain, there could be sunshine, we just don’t know. I have to be mindful of all those aspects when I‘m tailoring the team.”
The nine automatic selections for the 12-man team will come from the top four players in the European order of merit points list and the leading five in the world rankings.
McGinley’s opposite number, Tom Watson, has reduced the number of his overall wildcard picks from four to three.
Eleven of the 12 European players who took part in last year’s extraordinary 14 1/2 - 13 1/2 comeback victory at the Medinah Country Club in Illinois are back together for the first time for the tour’s flagship event at Wentworth this week.
The only one missing is Swede Peter Hanson, who has pulled out with a bad back.
”To gather all the players together is very difficult these days,“ said McGinley. ”I’d love to see it happen more often but it’s not realistic and we know it’s not going to happen.
“Major championships are mostly played in America and the World Golf Championship (WGC) events are too. The British Open is the only one outside of Europe where they will probably all gather, outside of this week.”
While his automatic Ryder Cup picks are weighted in favor of the world rankings, McGinley wants to make sure the lesser players also have a chance of getting in his team.
“Those who are not fortunate enough to be in the top 50 of the world rankings and are not in the WGCs or the majors are going to really be behind the eight-ball,” he said.
“What I‘m trying to say to them is that if they play very well in the rank-and-file European Tour events and perform week in, week out...that’s going to weigh heavily in terms of being a potential pick.”
McGinley said he would even keep an eye on Bernhard Langer after the 55-year-old German excelled in the first three rounds of last month’s U.S. Masters before falling away with a closing 76.
“If Bernhard wins the Masters or an Open championship my attitude would be, ‘Wonderful, I’d love to have him in the team,” said the Irishman.
“I want to keep all my options open whether it be a Bernhard Langer or a young rookie coming through. I‘m not ruling anybody out and with three picks it means I can keep my eye on all of those things.”
McGinley is also planning to pick the brains of former European Ryder Cup skippers Tony Jacklin and Bernard Gallacher in the countdown to next September’s match.
“I would certainly like to talk to Bernard who lives close to me in Sunningdale,” he added.
”I‘m also interested in talking to Tony ... about team events, managing players, strategies, tactics, stuff like that. “I would love to have a chance to talk to both those two.”
Editing by Mark Meadows