NEWPORT, Wales – European captain Colin Montgomerie wonders why Tiger Woods is being “hidden” in the American lineup.
Those were Montgomerie’s words when asked by reporters for his assessment of the U.S. lineup for the opening fourballs Friday at the Ryder Cup.
Montgomerie also expressed surprise when asked what he thought about American captain Corey Pavin not playing Jim Furyk or Hunter Mahan in the opening session. Furyk is hot after winning the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup last week and Mahan was undefeated (2-0-3) in his first Ryder Cup appearance at Valhalla two years ago.
But Montgomerie appeared most surprised at Pavin’s decision to send off rookies Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton in the last pairing.
“I was expecting Tiger to go off first or fourth,” Montgomerie said. “I think Tiger being hidden is a different move.”
Woods is going off in the third slot with Steve Stricker and will face Ian Poulter and Ross Fisher. Watson and Overton will face Luke Donald and Padraig Harrington.
“Luke Donald and Padraig Harrington would not have expected to play two rookies in the last game,” Montgomerie said. “It’s not expected, the last game is an important game.”
Woods has played in the opening match in his last three Ryder Cups but come out with a victory in just one of them. Beating Woods in the opening match has given Europe strong early momentum in the past. When Montgomerie and Harrington teamed to beat Woods and Phil Mickelson at Oakland Hills in 2004, it was viewed as the spark that led to Europe's record rout of the Americans.
In facing Poulter Friday, Woods is up against a man who once said that when he put his game together, golf's hierarchy would include just Woods and himself. Woods began calling Poulter 'No. 2' after that.
Asked about Woods' slot, Pavin went no further than to say believed the third slot was best for Woods and Stricker.
Asked about Furyk on the bench, Pavin cracked: “He said he was tired counting his money [from the FedEx Cup] victory.”