It’s all go for January after the R&A and USGA published their finalised Rules of Golf. So what’s coming in? Steve Carroll outlines the changes.
Ryder Cup 2014: 10 players who could represent Team Europe
As the 2014 Ryder Cup fast approaches, here’s a look at some of the likely players, in no particular order, who will be selected due to their impressive displays so far this season.
World Ranking: 2nd
Top 10 finishes: 12
Golf Brand: Nike
Rory has played exceptionally well this year with his fine from culminating in victory at The Open Championship. The 25-year-old Northern Irishman can join an elite club of golfers if he is ever successful at The Masters by achieving a career Grand Slam. Almost a certainty for the 2014 Ryder Cup team, McIlroy will bring plenty of fire to Team Europe.
World Ranking: 3rd
Top 10 finishes: 8
Henrik Stenson knows what a pressure test playing the Ryder Cup can be. Putting in appearances in 2006 and 2008, the Swede sank the winning putt in 2006 to send Europe to victory. Stenson has enjoyed a good year thus far, and will be hoping to add to his trophy cabinet like he did in 2013 when he became the first golfer in history to win the FedEx Cup and the Race to Dubai in the same season.
World Ranking: 4th
Top 10 finishes: 7
Justin Rose has enjoyed great success this year; so much so that many truly believed he might win the Open Championship. That honour eventually went to Rory McIlroy, but Roses’ resurgence has seen the Englishman move swiftly up the world rankings to fourth after back-to-back wins at the Quicken Loans National and Scottish Open. He will be an asset to the 2014 Ryder Cup team if his great form continues.
World Ranking: 21st
Top 10 finishes: 6
Golf Brand: Titleist
A quiet golfer who flies largely under the radar, Victor Dubuisson is one of the best European golfers around. He put in a great shift at The Open Championship, playing his own game to finish T9 on 10 under. However, the Frenchman knows how to win games and a player with his skills surely adds more fire power to an already stacked European contingent.
World Ranking: 24th
Top 10 finishes: 4
Englishman Luke Donald arguably had his best year to date in 2011 when he ascended to the top of the world rankings – an honour he held for a whopping 55 weeks. He also made history by becoming the first player ever to finish first on both the PGA Tour and European Tour money lists respectively in the same season. He also won Player of the Year on both Tours. Luke Donald will be hoping to qualify for the 2014 Ryder Cup to show what he is capable of in front of a worldwide audience.
World Ranking: 12th
Top 10 finishes: 4
Golf Brand: TaylorMade
Martin Kaymer is fondly remembered when people speak about the Ryder Cup as he helped Europe retain the title back in 2012, despite team captain Jose Maria Olazabal opting to play him in only one team match before the Sunday singles match took place. The European team completed a historic comeback from 10-6 down at the start of the final day. Kaymer won his singles match of the Ryder Cup against Steve Stricker by one hole. His putt on the 18th retained the cup for Europe and completed the historic comeback.
World Ranking: 26th
Top 10 finishes: 3
Golf Brand: Callaway
Thomas Bjorn has been a fixture near the top of the PGA European Tour’s Order of Merit for more than a decade. He had a standout year in 2011 with three victories that included back-to-back wins at the Johnnie Walker Championship and the Omega European Masters. Bjorn was the first Dane to play in the Ryder Cup and made telling contributions in 1997 and 2002 respectively. In 2010 he was chosen to assist Europe as a Ryder Cup vice-captain. A big football fan, Bjorn is a supporter of Liverpool Football Club.
World Ranking: 5th
Top 10 finishes: 11
Sergio Garcia has been a member of the European Ryder Cup team in 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2012, and holds an impressive career record at the Ryder Cup of 16–8–4. Four of his appearances have resulted in overall victories. In 2006 Garcia almost became the first player to win all their matches in one Ryder Cup, however he was beaten by Stewart Cink 4 and 3. Europe still won the Ryder Cup with 18½ points to the United States' 9½ points and Garcia was hailed a hero for his incredible performance.
World Ranking: 16th
Top 10 finishes: 9
It’s not been the season Graeme McDowell would have wanted as the Ryder Cup draws nearer, but the Northern Irishman can still make automatic qualification into Team Europe should be play the way his fans know he’s capable of. In 2010 McDowell was given the unenvious task of putting to win on the 17th green of the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor. His match was the last of the 12 player singles and his opponent Hunter Mahan was giving nothing away in his own game. McDowell stepped up and made a 5-foot putt to give Europe a 14.5/13.5 victory.
World Ranking: 38
Top 10 finishes: 4
Jamie Donaldson has been quoted as playing down his chances of making this year’s Ryder Cup, instead focusing more on improving his world rankings and personal stats. Even so, Donaldson has been part of the Ryder Cup European Team in the past so he makes this list, although he may need to rely on a wildcard pick if he’s to make it into the team.