Sprint finish in a race that wasn't supposed to be a race
Got away with it
While Montgomerie was the greatest Ryder Cup player of his era, as a captain he just about got away with it in Celtic Manor and no more. Had Graeme McDowell not dug in on that Monday to tidy up the last match against Hunter Mahan, Monty would have overseen the first defeat for Europe on home soil since 1993.
As it was, they won by that single point. McDowell himself explained afterwards that the idea of sending him out last in the order was in fact heavily influenced by McGinley. Monty was the one who had the final say but McGinley was the one who had initially taken McDowell’s temperature on the idea.
Montgomerie is five months short of his 50th birthday and is itching to get out and play on the Seniors Tour. As former captain Bernard Gallacher pointed out over the weekend, a captain who isn’t around the players week to week on the European or PGA tour is straight away at a disadvantage.
“I just don’t see the thinking with Colin,” he said. “He will very quickly become out of touch with the players on the main tour. What message would that send to the other worthy candidates who are queuing up for the job, having earned their right to the captaincy just as much as Colin?”
This is the same Montgomerie, remember, who with the fizz still fresh in the victory champagne at Celtic Manor swore off the job for life.
“I would just say,” he said at the winners’ press conference, “that this is a one-time hit. I’m delighted that Europe have won this trophy but I will not be doing this again, I can assure you.”
Last week in South Africa and in the wake of Clarke’s line about maybe having to look at the unwritten rule about not asking anyone for a second time, Montgomerie could barely contain himself. “I thought it was between Darren and Paul until Darren said something, then my name was mentioned. I’ve never canvassed, as I didn’t last time. 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.”
But enough, enough. Tomorrow comes and it all ends. After a couple of days of doubt near the end of last week, McGinley has hardened in the betting over the weekend and we’re back where we started. It’s his to lose again.
As it should have been all along.
Tale of the Tape . . .
Tournament wins: 4
Ryder Cup record: Played 3, won 3 (2002-06); 9 matches, 4 points; Unbeaten in singles play
Captaincy experience: Twice captained GBI teams to victory in the Seve Trophy
Tournament wins: 32
Ryder Cup record: Played 8, won 5 (1991-06); 36 matches, 23 points; Unbeaten in singles play
Captaincy experience: Captained Europe to victory in 2010 Ryder Cup; Captained GBI to three wins from four in the Seve Trophy.
Tournament wins: 14
Ryder Cup record: Played 5, won 4 (1997-2006); 20 matches, 11 points
Captaincy experience: None