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Change to European Ryder Cup selection

Europe changed its Ryder Cup selection process Wednesday to take the top five players from the world ranking and then five from the European tour money list.

The change will bolster a team that won the Ryder Cup six of the last nine years. Tour officials said it was necessary to accommodate the rising number of Europeans who play most of their golf on the PGA Tour.

"The board is aware that golf has grown internationally and that European tour members play in many countries on different tours," Ryder Cup director Richard Hills said.

The 12-man team still will be filled out by two captain's picks. Europe's captain will be selected in July, with Ian Woosnam and Bernhard Langer the leading candidates.

Hal Sutton is the U.S. captain for the 2004 matches, which will be played at Oakland Hills outside Detroit.

The money list had been the primary source of Europe's team since 1975, although the number of captain's picks has varied.

The money list used for the Ryder Cup team will start in September with the Omega European Masters and end after the 2004 NEC Invitational at Firestone, a World Golf Championship event with at least $6 million in prize money.

Two years ago, European captain Sam Torrance had to spend his two picks among Sergio Garcia, Jesper Parnevik and Jose Maria Olazabal, because none played enough in Europe to make the team through the money list.

Olazabal, one of Europe's top players in the Ryder Cup, was left off the team.

"It is felt the implementation of this new qualification system will ensure that the Ryder Cup team continues to be both competitive and representative of the talent at Europe's disposal," Hills said.


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