Ryder Cup comes into sharp focus with double points on offer at The Belfry

The Ryder Cup may well return to The Belfry one day but, for now, the venue synonymous with the biennial event could provide a springboard for European hopefuls for September’s rescheduled clash at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.

Martin Kaymer plays a practice round during ahead of the Betfred British Masters at The Belfry. Picture: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

The Betfred British Masters, which gets underway at the Sutton Coldfield venue on Wednesday, marks the next stage in the qualifying race for spots on Padraig Harrington’s team as all points earned on the European and world points lists will be multiplied by two.

As it currently stands, Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm, Tyrrell Hatton and Rory McIlroy would qualify through the European points List, while Viktor Hovland, Lee Westwood, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Victor Perez and Paul Casey would qualify through the world list.

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The qualification period ends on 12 September after the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, with this week’s host Danny Willett, two-time major winner Martin Kaymer and Bob MacIntyre among those aiming to pick up valuable points over the next four days.

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“I feel like this is a really nice place to start the double points,” said Willett, who played on a losing side at Hazeltine in 2016.

“I spoke to Pádraig about this a few weeks back in the States. I think from now he wanted to create a scenario where guys playing really well in the run-up would potentially have a chance of getting in off their own back and not needing a pick.

“It would be nice to press on from now to September.”Kaymer, of course, holed the winning putt at Medinah in 2012 and the German has his sights set on using this week’s tournament to give himself a strong chance of facing the Americans for a fifth time.

“I’d really like to be on the team again,” he said. “That’s why I’m trying to have a good summer and put my name into the mix. I don’t know what I need to do to make the team – that’ll be decided before.

“Through my success and experience, also playing the PGA Championship in 2015 there. I think I have something to give to the team this year. I don’t know in what capacity but I’d love to help and would like to be part of that team.

“If I’m in form a couple of months before the Ryder Cup and the captain feels as though I could be beneficial for the team, there’s a decent chance for me to be part of the team, in one way or another.

“The other day someone asked me if I’d be a vice captain, my mind has never been there. But if I can help the team that way, of course, I’d be open to this. But my main goal is to make the team in a normal way, to qualify, to be one of the top nine players, and if not I can only get in with good form. We need to see how I play in the summer.”

This week’s event also marks the start of the battle for 10 spots up for grabs in next month’s US Open at Torrey Pines through the European Tour’s Race to to Dubai.

The players amassing most points from The Belfry then then Made in HimmerLand event in Denmark and the Porsche European Open will secure berths in the season’s third major at the San Diego venue.

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