Dual Major champion Sandy Lyle was a valued member of skipper Ian Woosnam’s staff during Europe’s comprehensive victory over the USA in September’s 36th Ryder Cup at the K Club, and he has made no secret of the fact that he wishes to be considered as captain in his own right for the 2010 renewal at Celtic Manor. Now the former Masters and Open champion has reacted to the news of Paul Azinger’s changes to the American qualification system by proposing changes of his own for the European team in future seasons.
The five-time Ryder Cup player (pictured at this year’s event) appeared unfazed by the American changes – which will allow future captains to pick four wildcards instead of two – and stated that he would like to see the European qualification period reduced to six months, in order to ensure the most in-form Europeans make the team. The present system sees European qualification last for just over a year.
“I’d like to see our qualifying reduced to six months so you get guys who are playing really well involved,” he told the BBC on Thursday.
“The four picks that the US have been granted is interesting but I think Europe’s reaction will be a flicker of the eyebrow. We’ve got strength in depth right now, the system is as good as it gets and the results are good so I don’t see why we would have to follow the Americans. We’ve got the US on the run. They’ve had their backsides kicked and want to turn it around so we expected something.”
Lyle went on to praise the appointment of Azinger and also discussed his hopes for the captaincy in 2010. He enjoyed his return to the Ryder Cup arena this year after almost twenty years away, but insists that 2010 will be the final chance to realise his dream of leading Europe.
“Paul Azinger will do a good job,” he predicted.
“He’s a younger version of Tom Lehman but is perhaps a bit more outspoken. He won’t be frightened to put Tiger Woods in his place or keep egos in check. It was really nice to be involved again in Ireland. My quest to be captain is ongoing and I will just have to sit back and wait. It’s still a long way off but 2010 is my cut-off point. I’ll be too old after that.”