With Ryder Cup qualification off and running from Thursday at the ISPS Handa Wales Open, europeantour.com spoke to a handful of potential debutants who will be going all guns blazing to make Paul McGinley’s European side at Gleneagles in 2014.
All five of the below players are European Tour winners, and strong performers, each with an interesting take on how to approach their quest for a Ryder Cup debut.
Race to Dubai: 29
World Ranking: 89
European Tour wins: 2 (2013 Lyoness Open powered by Greenfinity, 2012 Iskandar Johor Open)
“You just have to play your game, and I think if you play well then the consequence of that is playing in The Ryder Cup next year. I don’t think you have to be playing every week with it in your head, you want to play good every week, and The Ryder Cup doesn’t really change that.
“Qualification is definitely on my mind, and you know that if you have a good year, pick up two wins, then you have a good chance. Even if it wasn’t a Ryder Cup year then you would want to play great every week, and hopefully at the end of next year I will have enough points to qualify. I just have to play my game, play well, and see where I stand next year.
“The Ryder Cup is always special, regardless of what countries people are coming from, but I think it will be a great boost for Holland if there is a Dutch guy in it, and I just want to play well and hopefully I will be the first man in The Ryder Cup from Holland, but we’ll see."
Race to Dubai: 17
World Ranking: 44
European Tour wins: 1 (2012 Sicilian Open)
“There is nothing in particular that I will think about because it is a Ryder Cup year, I will just concentrate on my own game and focus on trying to win a tournament. It has been a while since I have won, so it would be a good way to start the Ryder Cup qualification this week, but I’m not really thinking about it too much right now. I’m just trying to get success by playing good, and if I do that this year then I will have a chance to play myself in to The Ryder Cup, but I will have to play good golf.
“Thomas (Björn) has been part of a lot of Ryder Cups and he has never lost, so I think the Danes have a pretty good history in that event, and obviously it would be really nice to follow in his footsteps. But I will just try and win a couple of tournaments between now and then and just see where it leaves me.”
Race to Dubai: 48
World Ranking: 175
European Tour wins: 1 (2012 Madeira Islands Open – Portugal)
“I will just try and keep focused on my game and we will see what happens next year, but I started really well this season and I will keep working to improve my game, and who knows. I won’t think too much about it, but it is a dream for me to play in The Ryder Cup, I just need to focus on my game.
“To be the first Portuguese golfer to play in The Ryder Cup would be great for me, but also for Portugal, and for young players to see that happen.”
Race to Dubai: 33
World Ranking: 57
European Tour wins: 2 (2012 Ballantine’s Championship, Lyoness Open powered by Greenfinity)
“Celtic Manor is a good place to start the Ryder Cup qualification after it was played here a few years ago, and it is obviously a big goal of mine to make a Ryder Cup team, and preferably at Gleneagles in 2014 where I always play well, so it would be great to get off to a good start here as I am taking the following two weeks off.
“You can get into a routine of trying to make The Ryder Cup team, and trying to make it happen, so you need to make sure you don’t let your mind wander off your golf game, and if you do that, then things will fall into place. I’ve had good experience of trying to make it into tournaments, like this year with the US Open, and maybe I got a bit too focused on getting in there rather than playing my game and letting it happen. So the next 12 months I will work hard to get better and better and make the team.
“I would be the first Austrian, we’ve had Markus (Brier) in the Seve Trophy a few times, and it would be nice for me to qualify for that this year as preparation for The Ryder Cup. I just need to play great golf as there are so many talents who can make the team, and I will need to have a good season to get in.”
Race to Dubai: 20
World Ranking: 61
European Tour wins: 1 (Commercialbank Qatar Masters)
“The first week has everyone looking to get off to a good start, but with 12 months of qualification ahead, a whole season, you just have to play your normal game for a year, and if you’re there or there abouts then you can start thinking about it. But it is obviously an exciting time for it to be starting this week, and obviously I’d love to put myself in with a chance of it, but a year is a long time.
“I’ve had a couple of weeks off and I’m feeling alright, got a good run until the end of the year, with another four or five events which could play a big role in getting into position to qualify. The win earlier in the year gave me a lot of confidence that I can get into the mix for qualification next year, and I’ve played a bit in America this year too, so I feel like I can compete over there too. So yeah, I think my game is more than capable of doing it, it is just a case of putting the results together.”