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Colin Montgomerie eager to lead Europe at Gleneagles

Colin Montgomerie could be nominated at next Tuesdays meeting. Picture: Getty

Colin Montgomerie could be nominated at next Tuesdays meeting. Picture: Getty

  • by MARTIN DEMPSTER
 

COLIN Montgomerie will enter the meeting to discuss Europe’s next Ryder Cup captain as “just a voice on the committee”, but the winning skipper in Wales two years ago isn’t ruling out the possibility that he may be asked to do the job for a second time at Gleneagles in 2014.

The Scot had expected Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley to be the only two names up for consideration by the European Tour’s tournament committee in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday until the former responded to Tom Watson’s appointment by the Americans by suggesting a man of Montgomerie’s “stature” probably now also had to be in the frame.

Montgomerie, a long-standing member of the 15-man 
committee that has Thomas Bjorn as its chairman, has no idea what the outcome of the much-anticipated meeting will be. If asked, however, he will have no hesitation leading 
Europe for a second time when the match is held close to his home in Perthshire.

“I am excited and honoured and very flattered really that my name has been put in the frame and that possibly I’ll be nominated,” the eight-time European 
No 1 told The Scotsman on the eve of the Volvo Golf Champions event in Durban.

“I’ve never canvassed, as I didn’t last time [when he was appointed four years ago for the 2010 match in Wales]. I’ve not spoken to anybody about this. But I’ve always felt that, if I was asked, I would do it and that’s still the case. Darren Clarke has made comments regarding the Tom Watson scenario and this meeting will contain the words ‘Tom Watson’ in it – I don’t think at the last two [US captains] Corey Pavin and Davis Love were mentioned.

“Darren seems to think we need to change things. We will see – I am just a voice on the committee and I will say my bit accordingly. I’ve always said that we need the best man for the job, whoever that is.”

Montgomerie was originally earmarked for the role in 2014. Indeed, he went into the same meeting in Abu Dhabi four years ago intending to propose his compatriot, Sandy Lyle, only to get the job himself after being hit by a “bolt from the blue” by Henrik Stenson.

“Henrik stood up at that meeting and had a lot to do with the committee agreeing on selecting myself,” said Montgomerie of him being proposed then by the Swede. “Henrik’s view was that it’s not just somebody’s turn.”

Padraig Harrington, who partnered Montgomerie in the Ryder Cup and also played on his winning team at Celtic Manor, said he believed the Scot would be “mad” to put his excellent record in the event on the line for a second time.

Responding to that, Montgomerie said: “I can understand where Padraig is coming from, but, if I was asked and didn’t take it, people might think he doesn’t want to be a loser. Well, the word ‘loser’ is a word in my career that I have never ever thought about.”

Bjorn, who is also playing in this week’s event in South Africa, believes Europe, having won seven of the last nine biennial jousts with the Americans, shouldn’t be influenced by Watson’s appointment when the decision is made.

If agreement is reached by the committee next week, the Dane is also keen that it is announced straight away so as to avoid a repeat of the situation in 2009, when Montgomerie’s odds tumbled between him being selected then announced as captain in Dubai a fortnight later.

“We were asked to keep quiet, but the rumour mill spread and I became 1/50 from 50/1,” recalled Montgomerie of that episode. “Nothing to do with me – I don’t know how to place a bet!”

Bjorn, one of the early names mentioned for the Gleneagles post but now unlikely to get a mention, said: “People have said since Tom Watson was 
announced – and I think that’s a pretty good idea from the Americans – we should do something different ourselves, but we seem to be able to win it with the system that we have.

“Why should we change it and why should we change our view on who should be captain? I don’t want us to react to Tom Watson being their captain – I want us to appoint who we think is the right man for the job.”

Asked specifically about Montgomerie’s name being in the frame, the 2011 Johnnie Walker Championship winner admitted: “If you sit down in a 15-man committee and 12 think Monty should be captain, then you’ve got to go with him. I don’t have a hidden agenda and I don’t have a strong view against 
appointing somebody twice, but there are a lot of other people I think could do a very good job.

“I’ve spoken to most of the guys who have played in the last match just to get their feelings – they are mostly the guys who are still going to be playing and we want to get them the right 
captain to play under.”

One option that seems unlikely is for the tournament committee to appoint two captains at the one time, as they did when Ian Woosnam and Nick Faldo were announced simultaneously for the 2006 and 2008 matches respectively.

“I can’t see that happening – we don’t want to go down that path again,” said Bjorn of a decision that, according to Montgomerie, was taken in order to ensure that Faldo didn’t feel as if he was “losing out” in any way.

 

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