European captain Padraig Harrington has decided to let form do the talking after opting to reduce his wildcard picks for the 2020 Ryder Cup to three.
Harrington will take over the captaincy for the showdown next year on the Straits Course at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, where Europe will bid to defend the title they won comprehensively 17.5-10.5 at Le Golf National in Paris in 2018.
Irishman Harrington was one of Thomas Bjorn’ vice-captains in Paris when four wildcards joined eight automatic qualifiers in the European team of 12.
But Harrington has taken the decision to reduce that number by one and limit himself to only three wildcard picks, opting instead to put trust in the selection process and points lists that will determine nine automatic qualifier for his 2020 line-up.
Qualifying will start at the 2019 BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, the European Tour’s flagship event, in September and conclude with the same tournament 12 months later ahead of the trip across the Atlantic to Whistling Straits.
Harrington said: “I have said on many occasions that one of the reasons for recent European success in The Ryder Cup is continuity. It is a theme that will be prevalent across my captaincy and I think you can see that in the overall qualification process for the 2020 team.
“Having said that, I am pleased that the Tournament Committee agreed to the change of Wild Card numbers. I have spoken to a number of people regarding the ninth player automatically qualifying for the team and in my experience, a player is more comfortable when he has qualified, hence my reasoning behind this change.
“I am also delighted to be starting and ending the process at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. It is one of our most prestigious events, played at an iconic venue and the home of the European Tour itself, and will help give a real narrative to the qualification race.”
The qualification for the European Team will once again feature the first four players from the European Points List for the 12-month period, therefore rewarding those who support the European Tour.
Having previously been the top four European players in the World Points List for the remaining automatic spots, that will now become five—ensuring that Harrington has his most in-form global stars selected.
The remainder of the team to take on Steve Stricker’s United States side will then be completed by Harrington’s three wildcard picks for the 43rd Ryder Cup, which takes place from September 25-27, 2020.
Available Race to Dubai points and World Ranking points will be multiplied by 1.5 towards the end of the qualification period, but significantly will not be available anywhere in the world from a tournament played opposite a Rolex Series event to preserve the prestige of key European Tour events.
Harrington, who won the U.S. PGA Championship in 2008 as well as back-to-back Open Championships in 2007 and 2008, was on the winning side in four of the six Ryder Cups he featured in as a player.
Harrington first stepped into a vice-captaincy role in 2014 as he helped the Paul McGinley-led European team to victory at Gleneagles. He was also an aide of Darren Clarke two years later when the United States won 17-11 at Hazeltine, one of only two defeats in the last nine Ryder Cups for Team Europe.