Every two years, the Ryder Cup pits a team of the best golfers America has to offer against a team of Europe's finest. Team Europe has won six of the last eight Ryder Cups, and it will look to continue its recent streak of success from September 28-30 at Medinah Country Club in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois.
Each team consists of one team captain and 12 golfers. Here is the new-for-2012 procedure for how the team representing Ryder Cup Europe was selected:
Captain: José Maria Olazábal.
The European team captain was invited to fulfill that role by the Tournament Committee of the European Tour, which invitation was ratified by the European Ryder Cup Players and Stakeholders Board. Olazábal, who made seven Ryder Cup appearances as a player, is the second Spainard to captain the team, following Steve Ballesteros in 1997.
Five European Points List Leaders: Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Paul Lawrie, Graeme McDowell, and Francesco Molinari.
The first five members of Team Europe are the top five qualifiers on the Ryder Cup European Points List. The list ranks competitors in all officially sanctioned European Tour tournaments on the European Tour Race to Dubai from September 1, 2011, until the conclusion of the Jonnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles in 2012. One point is awarded for each Euro earned in these events. In the event of a tie on the list, placings are decided by rankings on the 2012 Race to Dubai at the conclusion of the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.
It's little surprise that McIlroy was the top qualifier on the European points list, considering his dominance in 2012. McIlroy is the current No. 1-ranked golfer in the world and is coming off of a dominant victory at the PGA Championship. Undoubtedly, he will now look to top off his amazing season by leading Team Europe to a Ryder Cup victory.
Five World Points List Leaders: Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Peter Hanson, Martin Kaymer.
The second five automatic qualifiers are the leading five players, not otherwise having been selected from the Ryder Cup European Points List or from the Ryder Cup World Points List at the conclusion of the 2012 Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles. World ranking points are allocated to all officially sanctioned tournaments (on any Federated Tour) and are allocated according to the event rating of the tournament. In the case of a tie, placings are decided by the rankings on the Official World Golf Ranking.
Donald followed McIlroy as the top qualifiers on the World Points List. Westwood and Garcia bring a vast amount of Ryder Cup experience to Team Europe, having competed in a combined 57 Ryder Cup matches, which is more than the other 10 members of Team Europe combined.
Two Captain's Choices: Nicolas Colsaerts and Ian Poulter.
Team captain Olazábal was tasked with selecting the final two members of the European team. In making his selections, the Spainard chose one golfer with vast Ryder Cup experience in Poulter, who has competed in three previous Ryder Cups. Colsaerts, on the other hand, represents youth as the 29-year-old will be making his first Ryder Cup appearance and the first such appearance by any Belgian.
It will be interesting to see whether Team Europe can maintain its recent dominance over Team USA when the Ryder Cup kicks off at Medinah. With McIlroy and Donald leading the way for Europe, it is clear that the U.S. will have a lot to overcome in order to stop that from happening.
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Del Pearson is a long-time golf fan and active casual golfer. Del recently shook hands with Ernie Els. Follow Del on Twitter @DelPearson2.
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