- Clubbing Down
Who'd make Europe's 2014 Ryder Cup team if it was picked today?Will TideyJuly 7, 2013
The qualifying process for Europe's 2014 Ryder Cup team begins at the Wales Open in September, with 2010 venue Celtic Manor an apt setting for prospective members of Paul McGinley's team to begin their quest.
McGinley has upped his wild card picks from two to three, matching the number that will be available to United States captain Tom Watson. That means nine players on each team will qualify automatically - in Europe's case through either world ranking points or Race to Dubai points (effectively Euros earned).
With that in mind, I thought it might be interesting to look at who would make Europe's automatic nine as things stand and which three players might attract McGinley's wild cards.
Race to Dubai Four
We go to the Race to Dubai money list first, where McGinley would inherit the top four European earners. Based on current standings, they would be Justin Rose, Graeme McDowell, Matteo Manassero and Sergio Garcia.
G-Mac is red hot right now
World Rankings Five
Next we go to the official world rankings. Ignoring the four who have qualified through the European points list, McGinley will be delivered the five European players scoring the most ranking points during the qualifying period.
As things stand, Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Peter Hanson would make it through that route.
From the automatic nine, only Italian youngster Manassero would go to Gleneagles as a Ryder Cup rookie.
"I very much hope there's going to be a Scottish element, particularly in the playing side," McGinley said in February. "The gauntlet I'd throw down is what we did when we played in Ireland (in 2006), which was 25 percent of the team."
Of the Scots in the reckoning, Paul Lawrie is the only option who'd come with Ryder Cup experience, having played in two and been part of the victorious team in 2012. He's also the defending Johnnie Walker champion, so a proven performer at Gleaneagles.
Scot Lawrie will surely be there next September
The question for McGinley would be whether to stop there, or take his Scottish quota higher by making a gamble. With Manassero his only debutant so far, I predict he'd take a risk.
A bold pick might be Stephen Gallacher, who has finished T6 two years running at the Johnnie Walker and has an excellent record at the 2014 host course. Gallacher has won on the European Tour this year, but his complete lack of majors experience has to count against him. That said, McGinley wants home players.
That leaves one spot open. Paul Casey's apparent return to form makes him a consideration, as does the fact he won at Gleneagles in 2006. Martin Kaymer of Germany is another with a strong argument.
But I might go for experience, in the form of 42-year-old Dane Thomas Bjorn, who won at Gleneagles just two years ago. Bjorn was a vice-captain in 2012 and knows the Ryder Cup inside-out. He's in fine form and would be another steadying influence in McGinley's team.
2014 EUROPE TEAM PICKED TODAY
Rose (England, 6-3-0), McDowell (N Ireland, 5-5-2), Manassero (Italy, Rookie), Garcia (Spain, 16-8-4), McIlroy (N Ireland, 4-3-2), Westwood (England, 18-13-6), Poulter (England, 12-3-0), Hanson (Denmark, 1-4-0) , Donald (England, 10-4-1), Lawrie (Scotland, 4-3-1), Gallacher (Scotland, Rookie), Bjorn (Denmark, 3-2-1)