Langer Opts for Youth and Experience

RSS

04 Ryder CupBernhard Langers calculated, monotone manner has translated into two major victories, 61 worldwide titles, 10 Ryder Cup appearances and immortality in the World Golf Hall of Fame.
 
Comedy, however, is lost somewhere in that translation.
 
Langer started his press conference Sunday to announce his Ryder Cup captains selections with some opening statements, in both English and German. He then tried to add a little levity to the matter, before revealing his final two team members ' something about Hal Sutton, four picks and not having a phone.
 
If you didnt hear it, it was uncomfortably unfunny.
 
But Bernhard Langer isnt an entertainer; hes a winner. And he made two choices Sunday that should go a long way in helping him win, or at least retain, the Ryder Cup.
 
Langer selected Colin Montgomerie and Luke Donald to round out his team of 12 that will take on the Americans Sept. 17-19 at Oakland Hills in Broomfield, Mich.
 
It will be Montgomerie's seventh Ryder Cup ' his first as a captain's pick. It will be Donald's first as a pick or otherwise.
 
It would have been quite a surprise had Langer not selected Montgomerie. There would have been one of those Whoa reactions, coupled with that taken-aback movement of the head ' kind of like when you saw Tom Kite for the first time without his glasses.
 
Langer may well have but one chance to be a Ryder Cup captain, which means one solitary opportunity to be forever linked to Sam Torrance, or to Mark James.
 
Obviously, Langer wants to be remembered in the same breath as Torrance and Seve Ballesteros, and not the man who bypassed him as a captains pick in 1999. He wants to, by victory or by tie, keep the Cup. And he knew the only way that would be possible would be to add Montgomerie to his team.
 
Even if Langer doesnt know what country hes from (he declared Monty from England rather than his native Scotland), he knows firsthand what Montgomerie is capable of when the Cup is in the balance. The two have partnered seven times, going 5-1-1.
 
Just like the American side, there are seven experienced Ryder Cup players and five rookies on the European team. But even among the seasoned seven, none compare closely to Montgomerie.
 
  • Ryder Cup record: Montgomerie (16-7-5); Rest of the Team (21-23-8)
  • Foursomes record: Montgomerie (7-3-1); Rest of the Team (9-8-2)
  • Four-ball record: Montgomerie (5-4-2); Rest of the Team (10-7-4)
  • Singles record: Montgomerie (4-0-2); Rest of the Team (2-8-2)
  • Points earned: Montgomerie (18.5); Rest of the Team (25)
     
    Montgomerie is the only player, on either side, who has a winning record in foursomes, four-ball and singles.
     
    Langer said he took a variety of variables into consideration in making his decision: Ryder Cup experience, recent performances, performance under pressure, leadership and team chemistry.
     
    And, on his list of possibilities, it was check, check, check, check, check, next to Montgomeries name.
     
    It certainly didnt hurt Montgomeries cause by tying for third this past week at the BMW International Open ' a performance which stands out given the situation of trying to impress his captain, and the circumstances surrounding his impending divorce.
     
    Colins given us a great performance this week, to play that well knowing he still had to show me something, Langer said.
     
    I gave nobody the nod-ahead and I did that for a reason. I wanted the guys to try as hard as they could to the very end, and show me what theyre made of. And Im very proud of the way he played, especially this week, but also during the season.
     
    We know hes had some very difficult private times, which probably hurt his golf game for a period of several months. But I think hes over it a little bit ' coming out of the other end of it. Hes refocused. And I think most importantly, hell rise to the occasion.
     
    Being No. 16 on the (European Ryder Cup points) list, I think, he was my first pick.
     
    If Montgomerie was a lock in Langers mind, Donald was a true wildcard.
     
    Langer considered Fredrik Jacobson, who narrowly missed out at the BMW from automatically qualifying for the team, fellow German Alex Cejka, and his assistant captain Joakim Haeggman.
     
    But in the end, he decided upon Donald.
     
    Luke was a little bit harder (to select), because of all the other guys and how they have played, Langer said.
     
    But Luke has had a tremendous last year, year and a half. Hes performed extremely well in America. Hes won $1.5 million on the U.S. tour. And then he comes over here (on the European Tour) and wins the Scandinavian Masters, and has had very good performances the past few weeks, when we knew the pressure was on.
     
    Donald, a PGA Tour member who won the 2002 Southern Farm Bureau Classic and lost in a playoff in this years Buick Invitational, has plenty of Stateside experience, having also been an NCAA individual champion at Northwestern.
     
    He has an impressive match-play record, as well. Donald was 7-1-0 in two Walker Cup appearances, including a perfect 4-0 singles record.
     
    And of the seven European players with at least one Ryder Cup under their belt, Montgomerie and Sergio Garcia (2-0-0) are the only two with a single singles victory, let alone a winning record in the one-on-one session.
     
    I know Walker Cup is not quite on the same level as the Ryder Cup, but it is match play. And there is a lot of pride on the line and a lot of pressure, Langer said.
     
    Langer had plenty of options, and he opted for youth and experience. In one, he got one of the most accomplished players in the history of the Matches. In the other, he got a guy who could be making the first of several successful Ryder Cup appearances.
     
    A Ryder Cup captain is awarded two special selections in order to help make his a better team. Bernhard Langer did that Sunday.
     
    Im confident,' he said, 'that the two guys I picked are the best two guys for this job.'
     
    Email your thoughts to Mercer Baggs
     
    Related links:
  • Langer Finalizes European Team
  • European Ryder Cup Team

  • U.S. Ryder Cup Team

  • Full Coverage - 35th Ryder Cup