The announcement of Davis Love III as the next U.S. Ryder Cup captain was anti-climatic, as the news of Love’s captaincy was a week old by the time of the press conference. That said, several structural changes to the way Team USA will approach the Ryder Cup were trotted out as well. Here they are:
- The Ryder Cup Task Force is dead. Long live the Ryder Cup Task Force. The much-maligned 11-man task force was dissolved, and in its place is a new PGA of America Ryder Cup Committee featuring Love, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua, PGA of America President Derek Sprague and PGA of America Vice President Paul Levy. This group will identify future captains and vice-captains and be the main consultants for all things Ryder Cup.
- The “Billy Horschel Rule.” The eight players who automatically qualify for the team will be named after after the 2016 Barclays, the first event of the FedEx Cup, and three of the captain’s picks will be selected after the BMW Championship, the third leg of the FedEx Cup. The final pick will be turned in after the Tour Championship. Last year, Watson made his picks after the Deutsche Bank Championship — the second FedEx Cup playoff event — and watched as Horschel won the BMW and Tour Championship after it too late to add bring him to Gleneagles.
- Vice-captains now have structure. Love already named his first vice-captain in Tom Lehman, captain of the losing 2006 U.S. squad, and will have four total vice-captains. Two will be former U.S. Ryder Cup captains and two with “extensive Ryder Cup experience.” The latter will be players being groomed for future captaincy.
- The automatic qualifying system has changed. The only 2015 calendar events that count towards Ryder Cup points are the four majors, four WGC events and the Players Championship, leaving off the beginning of the 2015-16 schedule from October to December. Points can be earned at all PGA Tour events beginning Jan. 1, 2016. As Mickelson pointed out, counting the beginning of the wrap-around season gives the bottom-half of the PGA Tour a jump on the elite players who sit out those events.