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Europe's Ryder Cup bid boosted by changes: Bjorn

By Phil Casey

Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn believes Europe had to "move with the times" after significant changes were announced to the qualification process.

Bjorn will have four wild cards at his disposal instead of three when Europe try to avenge last year's 17-11 defeat at Hazeltine by regaining the trophy at Le Golf National in Paris in 2018.

And the 45-year-old Dane could also have more in-form players in his side thanks to an increase in points for tournaments held towards the end of the qualifying period, beginning with the 2018 BMW PGA Championship.

Players will still have to be European Tour members in order to be eligible for selection, which continues to rule out the likes of world number 16 Paul Casey, who gave up his membership to concentrate on the PGA Tour.

But should Casey wish to rejoin the Tour, he would now only need to play four tournaments - outside the majors and World Golf Championship events - instead of the previous five.

Bjorn has stood down as chairman of the Tournament Players' Committee to concentrate on his captaincy.

Asked if the changes were a "knee-jerk" reaction to last year's defeat after eight European wins in the previous 10 contests, Bjorn - speaking in Abu Dhabi yesterday ahead of the HSBC Championship - said: "I can see why people would say that, but I think every time you lose a Ryder Cup you are going to evaluate your system and look at what you can do differently.

"The world of golf is a moving thing. The players seek to be more worldwide players than three, four, five years ago and you have to move with the times.

"You have to appease the players and give them a possibility of making the team while they still seek - for the other 103 weeks in that spell - to achieve individual things.

"What has been voted through now is the right thing; it appeases the players, it gives you a chance of getting the best possible team and as a captain that's obviously the most important thing. I can go in confidently and present a team that will be the 12 best players in Europe."

With the extra wild card, Bjorn's team will comprise the first four players from the European Points List, followed by the leading four players from the World Points List.

In addition, players cannot become a Ryder Cup captain or vice-captain if they decline membership of the European Tour or fail to fulfil their minimum event obligation.

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