The European Tour did not need a task force to amend its qualifications for making the Ryder Cup team this year. Instead, it did so quietly and with little fanfare. Thomas Bjorn, who will captain the team in 2018 at Paris, announced this week that he would have the leeway of picking four wild cards for the squad (Darren Clarke was allotted three in 2016).
Also, one of the requirements for European Tour membership (a requirement for making the team) -- playing in at least five non-majors or non-WGC events -- was lowered to four. This helps golfers (like, say, Paul Casey) who primarily play on the PGA Tour but try to sneak in the occasional European Tour event just to stay eligible for the Ryder Cup (Casey was not eligible in 2016).
"I felt like an extra captain's pick would help me pick somebody who was winning a worldwide event that wasn't necessarily a Rolex or European Tour event," Bjorn said. "I'm confident that we're going to have the 12 best European players representing us in France, and that's the one thing that's important for me."
Four players will qualify via the European Tour points list. Then another four from the Official World Golf Rankings points list. Bjorn wanted the freedom to take four more beyond that.
"You've got to look at the system and how the world of golf moves and try and adapt the system to that," Bjorn said. "Like I said before, Paul [McGinley] felt that the system he had for 2014 was the right system. But he also said he felt it wasn't the right system for the way the golfing world is now because more and more guys seek to play worldwide."
European Tour CEO Keith Pelley noted that he's not fearful of diminishing the value of the European Tour by bumping the requirement from five tournaments to four tournaments.
"I see it that we are recognizing now that we have global members," Pelley said. "While at the same time, I think that this will encourage some of the other top-50 players to consider playing on our tour with the emergence of the Rolex Series."
"Obviously if you've got guys that are sitting right at the top and they are not members of the Tour and don't play in the Ryder Cup team, it creates a situation that's not great," Bjorn added. "But I think you've got to have a whole picture and present it for the importance of what the Ryder Cup is as a team event, and the entity of just the Ryder Cup, and then what the Tour is."
Furthermore, it was decided if a player was to revoke his current membership, he would ineligible to be a vice captain or captain for future European Tour Ryder Cup teams.
"So for example if a player right now at age 33 is playing on both tours and plays in the Ryder Cup," Pelley said, "then decides for whatever reason that he is eligible to play on the European Tour, but he decides to just play on the PGA Tour and gives up his membership, then he is no longer qualified to become a vice captain or a captain of the Ryder Cup team."
That is an intense reminder of how important this tournament is to the European Tour. It brings in close to nine figures of revenue every two years and is the lifeblood of an organization that desperately does not want to merge with the bigger, badder PGA Tour.