Ryder Cup, debate on the qualification system

Moments after the announcement of the 6 players selected by the English captain to complete his team in anticipation of the Ryder Cup in 3 weeks in Rome, several great golf personalities wondered about the absence of the Polish Adrian Meronk

by Andrea Gussoni
Ryder Cup, debate on the qualification system
© Getty Images Sport - Stuart Franklin / Staff

Moments after the announcement of the 6 players selected by the English captain to complete his team in anticipation of the Ryder Cup in 3 weeks in Rome, several great golf personalities wondered about the absence of the Polish Adrian Meronk.

Like Keegan Bradley for the Americans last week, the winner of the Italian Open on the Marco Simone course last May is for many the great forgotten of the European team. Paul Goydos sees it as a crime, Hunter Mahan does not understand, and Ian Woosnam is doubtful.

Ryder Cup, system

Same story for Matthieu Pavon. The Girondin cannot explain the choice to leave the 1m97 giant on the side of the road. Indeed the selection of Nicolai Højgaard, Shane Lowry, ghostly for several months, or the novice Ludvig Aberg surprised more than one.

For his part, certainly stunned, Meronk, winner 3 times on the DP World Tour (Irish Open 2022, Australian Open 2022 and Italian Open), and who probably also thought he had deserved his place more than some, remained a good player.

. Fair play, he contented himself with a “good luck” addressed to the Ryder Cup team, a few hours after the announcement. So what did the Pole, 3rd in the Race to Dubai at the end of the Omega European Masters, miss to be part of the team? Meronk finished 5th in the European points list behind Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Scotsman Robert MacIntyre and German Yannik Paul, the first to not qualify.

His choice to go play in the United States after the tour in the Emirates rather than heading for the three events of the DP World Tour in Asia (Singapore, Thailand and India) undoubtedly earned him his automatic qualification.

But in addition to this questionable decision, the native of Hamburg is above all a victim of the current selection system. According to its detractors, with only 6 automatic qualifiers, this one favors players based on the PGA Tour.

Only one true member of the DP World Tour, Robert MacIntyre, managed to clinch his spot in the team. The other 5 (McIlroy, Rahm, Hovland, Fitzpatrick and Hatton) mainly owe their selection to their performances across the Atlantic.

But if "Team Europe" had been built according to the selection systems in force between 2004 and 2012, deemed fairer, Adrian Meronk would have been part of Luke Donald's team. Indeed between 2004 and 2008 the captain had only two choices and the team was made up of the first 5 players in the world ranking and then the first 5 players from the European ranking.

Adrian Meronk but also Yannik Paul, Victor Perez and Rasmus Højgaard would have featured alongside McIlroy, Rahm, Hovland, Hatton, Fleetwood and MacIntyre. Luke Donald would then have had to choose two players. Certainly between Sepp Straka, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Justin Rose and Shane Lowry.

In 2010 with 4 automatic qualifiers for world points and 5 for European points, the team would have been almost identical with just the Danish twin less. Fifth in the world points, Tommy Fleetwood would have been drafted by the European points at the expense of Rasmus Højgaard.

Donald would have benefited from 3 choices to complete his selection. Adrian Meronk, Yannik Paul and Victor Perez would have won their place on the course! In 2012 the return to 10 automatic qualifiers also includes a change which would have cost Victor Perez his place.

Indeed, since that date, priority is given to the top 5 in the European points classification, a classification in which Perez finished 6th, behind Meronk. In this case, the Pole is the last qualified behind McIlroy, Rahm, MacIntyre and Paul.

At world points it is Hovland, Hatton, Fleetwood, Fitzpatrick and Straka who join the team. Shane Lowry and Justin Rose would have been in balance with Højgaard, Perez and therefore possibly Aberg. If Europe had kept the system in force from 2014 until the last edition in 2021, there were only 4 places left for the "Europeans" and Meronk in turn disappeared from the selection.

The captain had 3 choices. With the introduction of the 6 “picks”, Europe hopes to offer this year a team better equipped to challenge the American armada. One thing is certain, this very “typical” PGA Tour selection proves right those who are betting everything on a start next year on the great American circuit.

The good news is that, ranked 3rd and 4th respectively in the Race, Adrian Meronk and Victor Perez shouldn't miss this train...

Ryder Cup Adrian Meronk