Colin Montgomerie insists that should Europe regain the Ryder Cup it will not mean anything on a personal level as for him there is no ‘I’ in team but in that he is being, at the very least, disingenuous.
For when the dust settles the 47-year-old Scot will either be hailed as a master if they do regain the trophy off the United States here at Celtic Manor or as he said earlier this year “Captain Useless” should they fail to do so.
He may claim that none of his numerous memorable victories in the magical biennial clash mean anything on a personal level and therefore neither will it mean anything should he captain a winning side — but again, proud man that he is, he would rather be remembered as a winner like Sam Torrance or Bernhard Langer.
Indeed, what could give him greater pleasure than to regain the trophy that was lost so limply under the much criticised captaincy of Sir Nick Faldo — who had decided not to pick him as a wild card in 2008 – the man who leads him by just 1.5 points in the record for points won in Ryder Cup play.
Certainly, the players who survive from the mauling by the Americans in the suitably named course of Valhalla in 2008 believe that Montgomerie and his experienced set of vice-captains have brought a much-needed vibrancy to the team for this renewal.
“I have said how we did not have the X factor two years ago but this time it is definitely there,” said Northern Ireland’s US Open champion Graeme McDowell.
Montgomerie, who says that he would not exchange one of his Ryder Cup overall victories for the major that eluded him, has also managed to rouse even the most sceptical of his six rookies, Northern Irish youngster Rory McIlroy, who last year said the event was merely an ‘exhibition’.
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“I don’t really want to go into too much detail, but Monty gave a great speech last night in the team room,” said the 21-year-old on Tuesday.
“It was really inspirational and really got everyone going. He played a tape and he said a few words; that started the week off on the right foot.
“Yeah, it really did put the hairs up on the back of my neck.”
Montgomerie’s perceived greatest weakness is his fragile temperament which has come to the boil on several occasions in the past and whilst he has been generally relaxed this week a seemingly simple decision to bar his players from tweeting spiralled out of control leaving him on the point of exasperation.
“I thought I was the captain of a golf team, not the captain of a tweeting organisation,” he groaned on Tuesday.
Montgomerie insists though that he will keep his emotions under control.
“Not at all. Not at all, no,” replied Montgomerie as to whether it was difficult for him to control himself.
“The job in hand keeps that heavily in check”
Padraig Harrington, Montgomerie’s most contentious choice as one of his three captain’s picks as the three-time major winner is without a victory since 2008, believes that the captain does not need to make any adjustments to his persona from when he was a player.
“I don’t think his personality needs to change at all for being a captain,” said Harrington, who was chosen ahead of the more in-form English duo of Paul Casey and Justin Rose.
“It’s ideal in the sense that he does have the ability to, you know, as a captain should, to build up somebody’s confidence or say a kind word to somebody.
“But I also believe that he has the ability to make the tough decisions that need to be made.”
Montgomerie got ailing Spanish legend Seve Ballesteros to speak by phone to the players and the 53-year-old duly delivered reciting the speech he delivered to Monty and his fellow players he captained to 1997 glory in Valderrama.
“I was just after some passion, and by God, I got it,” said Montgomerie of Ballesteros’ contribution.
The motivation and passion are there and now Montgomerie has to deliver the leadership. — Sapa-AFP