EUROPE’S reluctance to give the Ryder Cup captaincy to the same person twice may well cost them the chance of regaining the trophy in 2010.
There is no debate about Colin Montgomerie’s playing record in golf’s premier team competition. He never lost in any of his eight singles matches and won 23.5 points, putting him just 1.5 points behind the record held by Nick Faldo, the losing European captain at Valhalla, Kentucky, last year.
But if the European Tour tournament committee’s sole aim was to win back the cup at Celtic Manor in Wales next year, then surely they would have given the job to Ian Woosnam.
Woosnam not only led the Europeans to a crushing 18.5-9.5 victory over the USA in 2006 but he also happens to be a Welshman.
So who better to whip up the crowd and unite the players than “Woosie,” who played in eight Ryder Cups himself between 1983 and 1997?
In the end, it appears it came down to a straight choice between Montgomerie and Spaniard Jose Maria Olazabal – two stalwarts of the European Tour for the past 20 years or so.
And Monty, who has won the European Tour Order or Merit eight times and the Ryder Cup five times, got the nod.
Monty is a popular figure with golf fans throughout Britain and designed one of the courses at Celtic Manor in Newport, Wales, for billionaire owner Sir Terry Matthews.
Mrs. Doubtfire to lead Europe in 2010
Thomas Bjorn, chairman of Europe’s 15-man Ryder Cup tournament committee, said: “There was no vote involved. We went around the table and everyone seemed to back Monty. A very hard and difficult meeting turned out to be a fairly easy one.
“I spoke to Jose, to Woosie and to Sandy (Lyle), all three in person. All Jose said was that he thinks Monty will be a great captain.”
The committee clearly believes it is only fair to rotate the job, meaning Olazabal and Lyle will be leading contenders in 2012 (Illinois) and 2014 (Scotland).
You might have thought that Scot Monty, still only 45, would have been better held in reserve for Gleneagles in five years’ time.
Monty’s assets are his passion, determination and in-depth knowledge of the game. But his detractors will also point to the fact that he never won a Major, can be extremely selfish at times and has a fiery temper. He has a love-hate relationship with the media, who once dubbed him Mrs. Doubtfire.
Like Faldo, he was very single-minded as a player, and that doesn’t always translate well to leading a team over three days of intense competition.
The good news is that the 2010 Ryder Cup is being played on British soil…American golf fans have been known to get under Monty’s skin.
It’s not as though Montgomerie is a bad appointment. It’s just that Woosnam would have been a better one if Europe is to wrest the cup back from Corey Pavin and his star-spangled U.S. team.