Did Colin Montgomerie make the right picks for the Ryder Cup? Senior writer Rex Hoggard and editorial director Jay Coffin offer their takes.
By REX HOGGARD
In the history of captain’s picks no skipper has ever had so many round pegs to fill so few holes, but that only partially explains how Colin Montgomerie got it wrong on Sunday.
Many a “Monday morning quarterback” will lament the selection of Edoardo Molinari, far too easily dismissing his birdie-birdie-birdie finish at Gleneagles, his second victory in Scotland in just over a month, and a natural pairing with brother Francesco.
The bigger concern is with Monty’s selection of Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald.
Harrington is a European staple with plenty of Ryder Cup experience, although his 0-7-2 record likely doesn’t strike fear in any American. But if we learned anything from Paul Azinger’s Valhalla masterpiece it is take the hot hand, not the resume.
This is the Ryder Cup, not an all-star game, and since April Harrington has just two top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour and he hasn’t won a sanctioned event since 2008. Ditto for Donald, who has just a single top 10 in his last seven Tour starts.
Paul Casey, ninth in the World Ranking and a match play machine, and Justin Rose, a two-time Tour winner this year who paired superbly with Ian Poulter in ’08, are in better form, and would have been better picks.
By JAY COFFIN
Simply, yes. Not because I believe he selected the three best players, but because there were five players, all equally deserving and the arithmetic says two were going to be disappointed. In this case it was Englishmen Justin Rose and Paul Casey left on the outside looking in.
Edoardo Molinari sealed the deal with three consecutive birdies to win the Johnnie Walker and the pairing with brother Francesco is a natural fit. You want hot players on a Ryder Cup team and this qualifies. Padraig Harrington is, well, Padraig Harrington and is the ultimate teammate. For those saying Harrington isn’t in top form, he’s not in his typical form, but he has recorded seven top-10 finishes since March, a record that is much more impressive than Casey’s.
Rose is the one who has the biggest argument for not being on the squad. But although he has two victories on the PGA Tour he also only played in two major championships this year and missed the cut in both. Donald has eight top-10s this year, a victory at the Madrid Masters and a third-place finish at the Wales Open, which was played at Celtic Manor, host of the Ryder Cup.
It’s not often I agree with Montgomerie but in this case I do. Any combination of the five players would have been justified. For those unhappy, blame the system, not the captain.