Europe’s Ryder captain for the 2004 matches against the US at Oakland Hills, Michigan will not be announced until May, according to the Ryder Cup Board.
In recent weeks there has been much speculation about who will lead the team in the defence of the trophy won dramatically at The Belfry in September – with Ian Woosnam and Bernhard Langer among the front-runners.
But in a statement released today, Mitchell Platts, spokesman for the Ryder Cup Board said: "The time scale has been set in order that the constitution of the new Ryder Cup Board can be determined prior to the meetings between The PGA European Tour Board of Directors, the Tournament Committee and The Ryder Cup Board which will take place during the week of the Volvo PGA Championship at Wentworth Club on May 22-25.
"There are a number of important issues to be confirmed, including the selection process for the 2004 European Team that will, in part, be based on a variation of the Official World Golf Ranking system and all matters will continue to be discussed through to the meetings in May."
Woosnam is expected to be the favourite for the job and indeed is tipped by the outgoing captain Sam Torrance, but Langer is interested in the challenge if he does not qualify for the team by right.
His chances of playing have been trimmed by the likelihood that European players will in future be chosen by different criteria. In the past ten have been taken from the Volvo Order of merit and two as the captain’s wildcard picks.
In future only five are likely to be taken from the Volvo list with five more the top Europeans listed in the world rankings, not already eligible. The captain could also complete the team with his picks.
The matches will take place from September 17-19, 2004 (Hal sutton captains the US team) with Colin Montgomerie and Nick Faldo among the front-runners to captain Europe in Ireland in 2006.