Monty has already led a Great Britain and Ireland side at the Seve Trophy on four occasions; three times the 45-year-old Scot was victorious. Hes got the goods to get the job done on the Ryder Cup stage.
But this selection was more than just getting the right man for the job ' surely politics came into play? Rumors have surrounded this process like bees to a honey-pot. In April last year I interviewed Sandy Lyle at his home in Ponte Vedra, Fla. At the time Sandy was optimistic; he felt his time was coming for the Ryder Cup captaincy role, and at the time I thought he was right. He was the front runner, alongside Ian Woosnam, who would have been a repeat choice. But a Welshman leading a Ryder Cup being played on Welsh soil for the very first time was appetizing.
The tide turned in the summer, however, when Lyle withdrew from the Open Championship after 10 holes in dismal weather at Royal Birkdale. Lyle was wearing glasses, couldnt see a thing, couldnt feel his fingers and felt he was just dragging his playing partners down. The media and the R&A didnt see it that way. Lyles copy book was blotted.
After the Faldo fiasco at Valhalla, Nick was out of the running. Woosnam still had a shot as we got further towards an announcement, but then the talk of having an active player was taking hold ' and besides Woosie has had his time.
Late last year we thought the announcement might not come until the spring time. But then the tournament players committee met in Abu Dhabi two weeks ago and the ball went from a gentle roll to an Indiana Jones-type charge. Montgomerie and Olazabal suddenly emerged as the front runners. Odds on Montgomerie were suspended amid the talk of a betting scandal, something the Ryder Cup didnt need. Was there a gambling leek? Who knows, but its something George OGrady, European Tour executive director is taking very seriously.
The committee finally met on Wednesday, and according to committee chairman Thomas Bjorn, Montgomerie was the unanimous choice. The European Tour comes out a winner; the announcement was made in Dubai, strengthening ties to a major sponsor; Monty avoids the hostile territory of captaining in the U.S.; and Celtic Manor, host venue for the 2010 Ryder Cup, can boast one of their course designers as captain. Montgomerie has a course at the site, a little fishy, maybe, but this is business.
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