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The Ryder Cup: selecting the European golf team

The Ryder Cup is one of the best-known sporting events in the world. It runs every two years and alternates venue between golf courses in Europe and the United States. Each team has twelve players made up of the biggest names in world golf. The criteria for picking players varies between the two teams, and has changed over the years. From 2012, selections for the European golf team will depend on the following three factors: place on the European Points List; place on the Word Points List; selection by the captain.

The European Points List allocates points to all golfers based on how many Euros they have earned while competing in officially sanctioned European tour tournaments. One point is awarded for every Euro won. The qualifying period runs from 1 September 2011 until the conclusion of the Johnnie Walker Championship in August the following year. At the end of this qualifying period, the five players who have accumulated the most points on the list will automatically be awarded a place in the European Ryder Cup team.

The selection of players becomes tricky in the event of a tie. If two players have the same number of points on the European Points List, precedence will be given to the player highest in the Race to Dubai rankings at the time. The Race to Dubai is a season-long event connected to the European Tour, which culminates in the Dubai World Championship held in November/December each year.

Once the European places have been decided, the next five places are taken by the five players highest on the World Points List, who haven't already qualified via the European List. The qualifying period is the same as for the European Points List, and is based on the number of world ranking points a player accumulates during this period. To check out the current rankings for both the European points list, the Race to Dubai, and the World Points List visit the European tour website at europeantour.com.

Once both the European List and the World List have been accounted for, the remaining two places are Captain's picks. The Captain selects any two players, not already qualified, who he considers worthy of inclusion. The Captain is appointed by the European Tour Tournament Committee and in 2012 will be José Maria Olazábal. Captain's picks are often the most controversial element, as the choice is so subjective. Naturally, there is significant competition between players to become one of the Captain's two selections to represent European golf in the Ryder Cup. Who Olazábal will select remains to be seen...

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