Seamus Power kickstarted his Ryder Cup bid with his second PGA Tour title in the space of fifteen months as he came out on the right side of a grudge match with Ben Griffin at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship.
It was a win that came with a host of guarantees for the Waterford native as he booked his return to the Masters at Augusta National for the second successive year, guaranteed his spot in the season-ending FedEx Cup playoffs and consolidated his place inside the world’s top-50.
Undoubtedly after an extremely consistent year, Power can head into 2023 with a sense of freedom and perhaps narrow his focus to making a maiden European Ryder Cup appearance for Luke Donald’s team in Rome next September.
In the latest Team Europe rankings Power made the biggest move out of all the hopefuls, soaring up 87 places in the World Points List to 8th place.
At just two places shy of LIV rebel Adrian Otaegui the 35-year-old will enter the year 2023 within touching distance of the team already – giving him a great foundation to build on with World Golf Championship and Major championship appearances to come his way once again.
The race for Marco Simone looks set to be one of the most open European Ryder Cup qualification processes in recent history.
The old guard such as Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Paul Casey are all unlikely to make the team next year for a number of reasons and Europe will be looking for a refresh and a restart with some younger talent coming through.
Luke Donald will have six automatic qualifiers and six wildcard picks and in no particular order whether that be automatic place or a captains pick I have selected my six lock-ins for the 2023 contest.
Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland, Shane Lowry, Matt Fitzpatrick and Tommy Fleetwood.
Current top-6 as it stands after Bermuda Championship and Portugal Masters: Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Shane Lowry, Robert MacIntyre, Thomas Detry, Adrian Otaegui.
Already discussed above, Seamus will be hopeful of securing an automatic spot and catching the eye of Luke Donald. Last weekend won’t have hurt his chances of a pick should he not be in the top-6 but maintain good form and he has every opportunity of a place in the team.
The Englishman has made two Ryder Cup appearances winning two of his six matches in Blue.
Should he not qualify automatically he will most likely earn a wildcard pick barring a dramatic drop off in form.
Hatton hasn’t missed a cut since the Irish Open.
Probably the standout mover in the early weeks of the qualification season .
The Belgian has been in impressive form on the PGA Tour in the fall season with finishes of T12, T9 and 2nd behind Power in Bermuda.
The talent of Detry who now boasts JP Fitzgerald as his caddy has never been up for debate but you do feel he will need to pick up a win to seriously convince Luke Donald he has what it takes in the pressure situations.
The most Detry earned in a full DP World Tour season was $1.2 million and he has already surpassed the one million mark on the PGA Tour this season as he looks to prioritise his playing time Stateside.
A player who probably should have made the 2021 team but let PGA Tour card concerns cloud his Ryder Cup bid.
Since then the affable Scotsman had become a shadow of his former self, slipping well below the top-100 in the world.
However, a win at the Italian Open has re-energised him and he will be a serious contender for a place in Rome next year.
Course experience could go in his favour too having won at Marco Simone GC.
MacIntyre is already in the top-3 positions on the world points list.
27th in the world.
A big win at the Honda Classic last year, the big Austrian doesn’t back off.
A very streaky player. His inconsistency might go against him or it might go for him depending on his form by next August.
After a run of six missed cuts in a row during the summer, Straka has been beaten in two playoffs by Will Zalatoris and Mackenzie Hughes while he was 6th at the Tour Championship.
His major championship performances have been poor to date but if he maintains his position in the world rankings he will give himself a huge chance of a Ryder Cup debut.
Smith moved to within touching distance of the automatic qualifying places with his impressive wire-to-wire win at the Portugal Masters.
Birdies win holes in Ryder Cups so Luke Donald will be keeping a close eye on Smith who can score heavily.
A PGA Tour card beckons for the Englishman which will mean a greater opportunity to earn world ranking points and put himself in the bigger tournaments.
The Swede is somebody moving under the radar.
Noren was one of the heroes of Thomas Bjorn’s 2018 side but entered a period of struggle, falling outside the top-100 in the world.
However, Noren is back inside the world’s top-50 with runner-up finishes at the Barracuda Championship and the Alfred Dunhill Links showing he is in great form and he hasn’t missed a cut since June.
The Hojgaard twins
Big things are expected of Rasmus and Nicolai who are both on course to end the 2022 DP World Tour season on a high.
Rasmus has not finished worse than T-30 since the BMW PGA Championship including two top-5 finishes while Nicolai won the Ras Al Khaimah Championship in February.
Both players are ranked outside the top-100 in the world but both are much better than their world ranking suggests with five DP World Tour wins between them at the age of 21.
Rasmus is eighth on the European points list and would seem the most likely of the twins to earn a place next year.
Cicco has shown signs of life lately after a career collapse since finding Rae’s Creek at the 2019 Masters.
The 2018 Open champion has missed just two cuts since May and in a team that is shaping up to be vastly inexperienced a good run of form next summer could see Molinari play a Ryder Cup on home soil.
37th in the world. Was a shining light at the 2016 Ryder Cup. Has all the talent in the world but mentally lacks that consistency.
The tall big hitting Belgian has become a mainstay in the top-50 this season and with a PGA Tour card on the horizon it looks like Pieters might be about to return to the top table.
DON’T RULE OUTS