Val-d'Isre - European captain Thomas Bjorn hailed PGA Tour
titles for leading players Rory McIlroy and Paul Casey earlier this month as
"very important" for his team's Ryder Cup chances in September.
Four-time major champion McIlroy shrugged off an indifferent
run of form with a stunning victory at last week's Arnold Palmer Invitational,
racing to victory with five birdies in the final six holes.
That came just seven days after England's Casey, who is set
to return to the Ryder Cup after a 10-year absence, held off a resurgent Tiger
Woods to clinch a thrilling Valspar Championship.
"The last couple of weeks with Casey and McIlroy
winning in America has been very important," Bjorn said.
"Confidence is a strong thing and with wins confidence
grows. So those who have a win in the bag know that their golf is good enough
to win, that's an important thing as a whole.
"It's also an important thing for the other players to
see. 'Oh, here are two star players playing extremely well, so we have to play
The form of Northern Irishman McIlroy and Casey could be
vital as Europe bid to regain the trophy after the 2016 loss at Hazeltine,
while Spaniards Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia will also have big roles to play.
Denmark's Bjorn will now have to start thinking about his
four wildcards, with Swedish duo Henrik Stenson and Alex Noren currently among
those outside the automatic qualification places.
"It (wildcard pick) is there for if there are players
that miss out who are coming into great form, or to balance out the team in
rookies and experienced players," added the 47-year-old Bjorn.
"It's got to be the 12 strongest players for us to have
a chance to win, but 11, 12 and 13 the margins come down to personal opinion
and that's where you've got to make the hard choices.
"In European golf today it takes a lot to be in the
team. You have to be playing really consistently and really well."
With France to host its first Ryder Cup, there have been
calls for a home player to be given a wildcard to encourage locals to support
But with Alexander Levy the hosts' highest-ranked player at
world number 60, that looks unlikely.
"When it comes to the French players, I've said this
all along, I'm a European Ryder Cup captain, I'm not a captain for France or
for any other country either," insisted Bjorn.
"I'll say what I've said all along, we need our 12 best
players to go to Paris to have a chance to win and whatever nationality they
are, that's not really my concern."