Monty goes into deliberation day with the wind at his back
The prospect of Paul McGinley being gazumped for the 2014 Ryder Cup captaincy appeared to move closer here yesterday, with Colin Montgomerie’s name apparently jumping the Dubliner’s in the queue.
Despite not even being mentioned in the same breath as the job just a fortnight ago, the 2010 captain goes into deliberation day with the wind seemingly at his back. The Tournament Committee of the European Tour will meet today at 3.30pm Irish time to decide on whom to anoint and if the rumblings are true and they’ve decided to go with Montgomerie, they will be doing so against the express wishes of at least four of last year’s winning team from Medinah.
And not just any four. Rory McIlroy is the number one ranked golfer in the world. Luke Donald is the number three. Ian Poulter has been the best European player at three successive Ryder Cups. Paul Lawrie is the highest-ranked Scot in the world rankings and the one most likely to play in only the second Ryder Cup to have been held in the old country. All four have spoken out publicly in favour of McGinley over the past week.
McIlroy even did so here yesterday, taking time out at the end of the announcement of his mega-deal with Nike to make the sole non-sponsorship related comment of the day. “I strongly believe that everyone deserving should get their chance,” he said. “I played under Paul at the Seve Trophy in 2009. I thought he did an unbelievable job. Out of every captain I have played under, I thought that he was the best. He brought a lot to the team room.”
Step to far
When McIlroy says McGinley was the best captain he ever played under, he includes obviously Montgomerie under whom he played the 2010 Ryder Cup. As far as he’s concerned, repeating the trick in 2014 is a step too far.
“I personally don’t think that Monty has anything to gain from this because if we go to Gleneagles and lose – you know he’s already a winning Ryder Cup captain. As I said, I’m fully behind Paul and I think Paul should get the job and hopefully he does.”
Nonetheless, Sky Sports News reported yesterday afternoon that sources close to Montgomerie were happy that his candidacy was gaining ground among the committee. Coincidentally or not, at the same time that Sky were reporting this news, the other players were taking to Twitter yesterday to reiterate their support for McGinley. “I hope Paul McGinley gets his chance,” wrote Luke Donald. “He’s been an amazing Vice Captain and deserves an opportunity #2014RyderCup.” Poulter was equally effusive. “Darren has taken his name out of the running for Ryder cup captaincy. It would be fantastic to have Paul Mcginley as the 2014 captain.” Lawrie weighed in as well, calling it “a one-time job”.
Leave the room
For all their support, none of those players are on the committee. Both McGinley and Montgomerie are but they will leave the room while the vote is being taken. Two more – Robert Karlsson and Miguel Angel Jimenez – aren’t in Abu Dhabi. The committee chairman Thomas Bjorn won’t vote unless the remaining 10 voters find themselves in a deadlock.
Those 10 are Clarke, Felipe Aguilar, Paul Casey, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Joakim Haeggman, David Howell, Rafael Jacquelin, Peter Lawrie, Francesco Molinari and Henrik Stenson.
Of those, it is believed that McGinley can count on the support of fellow Dubliner Lawrie as well as Molinari, the only member of the 2012 team on the committee. Stenson is thought to be pretty firmly in the Montgomerie camp, as is Bjorn should it come down to him. The views of the rest can only be guessed at, including the Chilean Aguilar who you’d imagine doesn’t particularly have a horse in the race one way or the other.