Key questions answered as race for a place in Europe’s Ryder Cup team hots up

With less than six weeks remaining to qualify, the race for a spot in Europe’s Ryder Cup team is hotting up.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at some of the issues which will need resolving before early September.

How does qualification work?

Three players will qualify from the European Points List – which is based on performances on the DP World Tour – and three qualify from the World Points List, based on world ranking points won during the qualifying period. Captain Luke Donald will be able to make six personal selections.

How long have players got left?

England's Jordan Smith lines up a putt at Galgorm Castle Golf Club
Next month’s ISPS HANDA World Invitational is the first of the final three qualifying events for the Ryder Cup (Peter Morrison/PA)

Donald will name his picks on September 4, the day after the Omega European Open. However, there are only three qualifying events remaining for players on the DP World Tour and there is a three-week break before the first of those, the ISPS HANDA World Invitational at Galgorm Castle in Northern Ireland. It is followed by the Czech Masters in Prague before the trip to Crans Montana in Switzerland for the final event. PGA Tour-based players have five events – this week’s 3M Open in Minnesota, the Wyndham Championship in North Carolina, the FedEX St Jude Championship in Memphis, the BMW Championship in Illinois and the season-ending Tour Championship in Atlanta.

Who is likely to gain automatic spots?

Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy
Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy will be the European team’s key players at this year’s Ryder Cup (Adam Davy/PA)

World numbers two and three, Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm respectively, are safe on the European Points List as they have accumulated so many points. Third-placed Scot Robert MacIntyre’s position could be under threat, however. Norway’s Viktor Hovland and English pair Tyrrell Hatton and Tommy Fleetwood currently occupy the three places on the World Points List, with Fleetwood most at risk.

How will Donald choose his captain’s picks?

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The number was changed from three to six this year to give the captain more flexibility to pick players in form in the final couple of months. But form will be only one factor as after losing so heavily at Whistling Straits two years ago, the team is now without a number of vastly-experienced players as the quartet of Sergio Garcia – the Ryder Cup’s record points scorer – Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Paul Casey are all missing due to their defection to LIV Golf.

So, who is in Donald’s thoughts?

Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald speaks with Germany's Yannik Paul
Germany’s Yannick Paul (left) is on the fringes of qualification for Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald’s team (Peter Byrne/PA)

Fleetwood is being challenged for his automatic spot by 2022 US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick on the World Points List but it is unthinkable both will not go to Rome. Former major champions Shane Lowry and Justin Rose are also in the mix as their experience will be invaluable. Sepp Straka, who finished joint second at The Open, is well-placed on both lists and is in form and looks a good bet, as is MacIntyre. Germany’s Yannick Paul, Pole Adrian Meronk, Frenchman Victor Perez and Denmark’s Rasmus Hojgaard are all high on the European Points List and will be looking to impress in the final weeks as they chase the likely two remaining places available.