Watson wants purer Ryder Cup with ban on wild card entrants

AMERICA’S Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson wants wild card picks to be abolished to ensure players earn their place at the biennial event on merit.

Both Watson and Europe’s captain Paul McGinley are able to add three players to their teams for next year’s three-day event at Gleneagles to those who earn qualification.

With several top European players based on the PGA Tour, and therefore at a slight disadvantage, McGinley is adamant a change to the rules could weaken his team, who have won seven of the last nine Ryder Cups.

Watson and his compatriots watched agonsingly as then-world No26 Ian Poulter, picked as a wild card by captain Jose Maria Olazabal last year, spearheaded Europe’s astonishing recovery from 10-4 down to win 14.5-13.5 at Medinah.

And Watson, 64, is keen to avoid a repeat of such scenarios.

“The purest form of Ryder Cup would be no captain’s picks and 12 players who qualify,” he said.

“I reduced my picks this year from four to three and was thinking actually two, because I wanted the players who are playing to get on the team to have that as a goal.

“If they get there they have earned something very special and maybe we should go back to no picks.”

With 12 months to go until the Ryder Cup tees off, McGinley insists it is too early to think about the form of some of Europe’s top talents.

And though selection is a long way to being decided he concedes in-form Henrik Stenson should already be looking to book his flight to Scotland.

“He is 85 per cent there already,” said McGinley. “You can safely say he can get that extra 15 per cent.”