The next stop for Europe is the HSBC Champions and its $8.5 million purse, followed by the Turkish Open ($7 million) and the World Tour Championship in Dubai ($8 million).
In some cases, even more Ryder Cup points are available than it seems.
"No doubt, whoever wins is putting themselves in tremendous shape to make the team," Padraig Harrington said. "Paul better hope it's one of his stalwart players. You'd be surprised what one event can mean. Somebody like me, if I had come in and won this week, it puts me in all the world events. Now I'm able to gather money for playing average because I'm in those events. It's really difficult to make the Ryder Cup team if you're not in the top 50 because you gather points more easily."
Fernandez-Castano went from No. 60 to No. 32. That put him in two World Golf Championships over the next four months, and all but secured a spot in the Masters.
Paul Lawrie doesn't see it as a problem.
Europe is playing for big money. That's a good thing. These four tournaments have about as much prize money as the next 15 regular European Tour events. And if someone were to get hot in November and secure a spot on a Ryder Cup that is played in September?
"That happens every year," said Lawrie, who made his first Ryder Cup team by winning the British Open in 1999. "We want big tournaments. We want big prize money. And that's what we've got."
When the Ryder Cup was postponed one year to 2002 because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, half of both teams were not in the same form as when they qualified. McGinley made the team easily that year, and he was concerned about how he would perform at The Belfry. It worked out well for him in the end, of course. McGinley became a part of Ryder Cup lore with an 8-foot par putt to win his match and clinch the cup for Europe.
"I'm not being critical," McGinley said. "But it's going to be interesting to see how this evolves. This year we have a massive amount of points at the beginning of qualifying. Having said that, two years ago because the FedEx had so many points, our guys based in America had a great opportunity to earn ranking points.
"And that," he added, "worked out OK."
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