The Irishman's predecessor, Jose Maria Olazabal, had just the two world card picks available for his team that defeated the Americans in Chicago last September to retain the trophy.

However McGinley has been given more of an opportunity to tailor his side with the addition of the third wild card.

The decision was taken following unanimous backing from the European Tour's Tournament committee, late Monday.

That means nine automatic qualifying places will be available for the 12-man team, four via the European Tour points list and five from the world points list.

McGinley travelled to the United States for the Players Championship recently to canvass the views of his potential team members and said they were behind the move.

"I talked to the players and there was 100 per cent agreement,"McGinley told reporters at Wentworth ahead of the PGA Championship.

"I have said on a number of occasions that if something ain't broke then don't fix it, and I think that applies to the qualification process for the European Ryder Cup team.

"You only need to look at the record books to see that we haven't done too badly of late so I didn't see the need to make sweeping changes.

"I've kept the qualification list order the same as Olly had it for Medinah, the only difference being that I've increased the number of picks from two to three.

"I've done that to give myself a little bit of extra flexibility when it comes to making my selections. Hopefully this will ensure that I have the right players to face the examination paper that Gleneagles will set out next September."

The Americans, who will be skippered in Scotland by Tom Watson, have gone the other way, cutting the number of wild card picks in the team from four to three.

The Americans moved from two to four captain's choices in 2008 when Paul Azinger was captain. The move was rewarded with a win on home soil at Valhalla over a European squad captained by England's Nick Faldo.

Europe won back the Ryder Cup two years later at Celtic Manor in Wales before successfully defending the trophy with a sensational final day comeback at Medinah, outside Chicago.