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Brent Kelley

Pettersson a Player Without a Ryder Cup Country

By August 17, 2012

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Carl Pettersson opened the 2012 Wyndham Championship with a 62. A week ago, he was in contention at the PGA Championship. He won the RBC Heritage in April, has two runner-up finishes this year plus a third. He's 11th on the PGA Tour money list and ninth on the FedEx Cup points list. Pettersson is from Sweden.

Surely, European Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal is thinking hard about adding Pettersson to his team, right? Wrong. Pettersson isn't eligible for Team Europe.

Well, then, the fact that Pettersson acquired United States citizenship not too long ago means that American captain Davis Love III is looking hard at adding Pettersson to Team USA, right? Wrong. Pettersson isn't eligible for Team USA.

Pettersson is a dual national. He was born in Sweden and maintains his Swedish citizenship, but has lived in the United States since his junior year of high school and acquired American citizenship early in 2012.

He has played almost exlusively in PGA Tour events since joining the USPGA Tour in 2003. And that's the problem for him regarding Team Europe. Only members of the European Tour are eligible to play for Europe in the Ryder Cup. Pettersson isn't a member, and hasn't played a "regular" Euro Tour event (as opposed to a major or WGC tournament) in half a decade.

As for Team USA, naturalized American citizens are eligible to play Ryder Cup for the United States - but only if they acquired citizenship before turning 18. So Pettersson strikes out on that count, too.

Pettersson has made comments that make it clear he'd like to play for Europe. But don't feel too bad for him - he could change the situation if he wanted to badly enough. Other Europeans living in the U.S. - Luke Donald, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey to name a few - have no trouble playing primarily on the PGA Tour while also meeting European Tour eligibility requirements. If Pettersson played in the four majors and three U.S.-based WGC tournaments, he'd need only make five appearances in "regular" European Tour events to meet the Euro Tour's membership requirement.

But Pettersson is happy playing the USPGA. He has a family and a life in North Carolina that he doesn't want to take more time away from. He's made his choice to remain a Swedish-American golfer without a Ryder Cup team.

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August 18, 2012 at 3:06 am
(1) Daniel says:

Are you sure he canīt be a captains pick? I know he has been fitted for clothes before so he must have been in the conversation and he has not been a member of ET in a long while.

But they might have changed the rules

August 18, 2012 at 8:37 am
(2) golf says:

You’re right, he’s been in the discussion before — I recall Monty talking to him about the 2010 team. The rules haven’t changed, as far as I know, it might just be that everyone is more aware of the rules this time around. But the European Tour has confirmed that both automatic qualifiers and captain’s picks must be Euro Tour members to play the Ryder Cup. Of course, the Ladies European Tour originally said Sandra Gal couldn’t play the 2011 Solheim Cup because she wasn’t an LET member, but them found a loophole in its rules that allowed them to make her a member and get her on the team. In Pettersson’s case, there doesn’t appear to be any wiggle room, and Europe’s picks are coming up at the end of next week.

August 20, 2012 at 9:52 am
(3) sport medic says:

It’s even worse on the ladies side where 7 of the top ten players are ineligible to play in the Solheim Cup.

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