Team Europe and its captain Thomas Bjorn will have four Ryder Cup wildcard picks for the first time for the 2018 match in France


Team Europe and its captain Thomas Bjorn will have four Ryder Cup wildcard picks for the first time for the 2018 match in France.

The increase is among several changes to the European qualifying criteria for 2018 match, which is being hosted just outside Paris at Le Golf National in France.

Other notable changes include weighted points that will be a third more valuable in the final four months of qualifying. This should put more of an importance on form leading up to the biennial match, even if it does add more pressure to the shoulders of captain Bjorn, who will be facing off against American Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk.

Key events will also have their Ryder Cup points multiplied by 1.5 for the two respective qualification lists, with the first event to benefit from this increased weighting being the 2018 BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

Furthermore, following the introduction of the Rolex Series, no Ryder Cup points will be available at tournaments staged anywhere in the world played in the same week in both 2017 and 2018, a change designed to take into account the significance of the Rolex Series, and because it reduces qualification points being available globally, it gave room for the fourth captain’s pick.

Players will also only have to play four tournaments instead of five to retain their European Tour membership, so players like Paul Casey and Russell Knox who are based on the PGA Tour should have a greater chance of qualifying.

It means that for 2018 the 12-man team will be made up of the top four players from the European points list, the first four players from the world points list and Bjorn’s four captain’s picks.

With all the changes signed off following a meeting of the European Tour’s Tournament Committee in Abu Dhabi, players will begin to earn points from the Czech Masters in August this year.

Commenting on the updates, Bjorn said: “I am delighted the committee passed these regulations, which I believe will considerably benefit the European Ryder Cup team in 2018 without compromising the strength or importance of the European Tour.”

The move means Team Europe will now match the American team, who added a fourth wildcard pick to its selection process before it ended a run of three successive European victories by winning 17-11 at Hazeltine last year.