Europe’s selection criteria gives them early advantage

IN an extract from his new book, Ryder Cup legend and City A.M. columnist Sam Torrance explores Europe and America’s selection criteria and reveals who would make the cut in his all-time dream team (above).

MY view is that Europe have now got it about right, with the top four world-ranked players being joined by the top five others from the European points list and then the three captain’s picks. With the vagaries of Europeans playing far more around the world, there is an argument for us going to three picks – in 2008, for instance, it was ridiculous that Nick Faldo could not find room in his team for Darren Clarke, who had won twice late in the year – but, in the American system, I think that it is almost as if they don’t need as many as four picks.

To my mind, the captain’s picks are there for the players who may have had an injury earlier in that year or who have made a dramatic late run of form, or for the odd case of those who do not play on their home tour but who combine very impressive results with not being ranked high enough in the world to make the team that way.

I think American captains now have a very difficult task, because they must have very good reasons not to pick those players who finish at nine and 10 on their qualification list. If they don’t pick them, and go for someone who finishes in 11th or 12th spot instead, or go for four players well outside those positions, it is putting a lot of unnecessary pressure on those players.

I like a system in which the large majority of players have to play themselves onto their team. Someone who busts a gut to get that last place is bringing an awful lot of desire and commitment to the party.

Every Ryder Cup captain wants a balance to his team, especially in terms of a mix of younger and older players, and his own selections give him the opportunity to achieve that. Earning your own place on the team is, however, a vital part of what makes the event so great, and I speak as someone who played my way into all of my eight appearances.

Edited extract taken from An Enduring Passion: My Ryder Cup Years by Sam Torrance, published by Mainstream in hardback at £16.99. Sam will be signing copies today at Waterstones, Jubilee Place, at 12 noon, and tomorrow at Waterstones, London Wall, 12.30pm, and Waterstones, Ludgate Circus, 3.15pm.