Spaniard wants Ryder Cup role: Monty silent on Olazabal bid for 2010 captaincy
SINCE there have already been more twists in Europe's search for a Ryder Cup captain at Celtic Manor in 2010 than even Harlan Coban would dare squeeze into a potboiler, Colin Montgomerie has wisely decided to keep his own counsel after being pressed on the news of Jose Maria Olazabal's candidacy for the job.
"I'm not saying anything significant today to anyone," Montgomerie insisted after posting 75 and missing the cut by a couple of shots at the Qatar Masters. "I will see you next week and I look forward to it."
A week or so ago in Abu Dhabi, Monty was in more relaxed mood after he appeared to have emerged as the undisputed favourite to succeed Nick Faldo as captain. When the European Tour's tournament committee convened for a lengthy meeting, it was still unclear if Olazabal wanted the post. If he didn't, the players determined the prestigious job shouldn't go to another senior figure such as Sandy Lyle or Ian Woosnam.
So they turned to Montgomerie and explained that his preferred option of leading Europe at Gleneagles in 2014 was unlikely to come to pass since the Scot would be the same age in five years time as Lyle is today. And, at 51, the new thinking is Monty would be too old to have an effective working relationship with his team. By indicating in private his willingness to captain Europe next year, Montgomerie both dug the committee out of a hole and safeguarded his own shot at glory.
The scene was duly set for Monty's coronation in Dubai next week until Olazabal ended months of dithering. Ever since Europe's defeat at Valhalla, Olazabal has been unsure whether to attempt to play his way into the 2010 side or to go for the captaincy. This week, the Spaniard listened to reason.
According to his manager, Sergio Gomez, Olazabal read with interest all the newspaper clippings urging him to accept. "The next thing I knew he was asking me for a phone number for Thomas Bjorn (the chairman of the Tournament committee]," said Gomez. "I think Jose now accepts he probably isn't fit enough to play in the Ryder Cup any more."
Although Olazabal has put his name forward for Celtic Manor, even Gomez is no longer sure if his client will get the job. Like many others in European golf, he suspects Monty's track record of antipathy on American turf makes him an unlikely candidate to lead Europe in Chicago in 2012. "I don't believe Jose will get it because we all know there are powerful reasons why Monty cannot do it in 2012, given his relationship with the US crowds," added Gomez.
While seemingly unconcerned about snubbing Lyle, the committee may be less keen to thumb its nose at either Olazabal or Montgomerie. Four years ago they appointed a job lot of captains in Woosnam and Faldo. Although George O'Grady, the chief executive of the European Tour, has indicated only one position is up for grabs in Dubai next week, common sense suggests another double appointment of Montgomerie in 2010 and Olazabal in 2012 deserves consideration.
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