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US Ryder Cup qualification modified for 2006

The U.S. Ryder Cup qualifying system has been revamped for 2006 after heavy criticism following the American team's thrashing by Europe in this year's event.

The PGA of America announced on Thursday a new points system which puts far more emphasis on performance the season of the biennial matchplay team competition, although results from the previous year will still count.

Previously, the points were more evenly distributed over the two seasons between Ryder Cups leading to complaints that the U.S. team were forced to rely on players who had shown their best form a year before the event itself.

"The PGA of America's goal is to ensure the strongest possible team for the next edition of the Ryder Cup matches at the K Club in Ireland (in 2006), said PGA of America president Roger Warren.

"The new system rewards the game's hottest players as well as many players who have won events in the year of the matches."

In 2006, regular PGA Tour tournament wins will be worth 375 points instead of 75 in 2005 and major event victories -- the U.S. Open, Masters and PGA Championship plus the British Open --- will reap 675 rather than 450.

Top 10 finishes will also be stacked in favour of 2006 performances.

Ten players will be selected directly from the points system and 2006 U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman will select two wildcard team members as in previous years.

The U.S, skippered by Hal Sutton, crashed to a record 18 1/2-9 1/2 beating by Bernhard Langer's team at Oakland Hills in Michigan in September.

The U.S. have not won since a come-from-behind victory in 1999 in Brookline. Their last success before that was in 1993.

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