Surprising Names for Monty

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Last summer, European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie placed a sealed envelope in his desk draw at home with the 12 players he thought would make his team in October 2010. Only Monty knows who’s on the list, but I’m guessing the names of Alvaro Quiros and James Morrison are absent, so too probably are Miguel Angel Jimenez, Rhys Davies and Ross McGowan. All five have won since qualification began last September.

On Sunday in Seville, Alvaro Quiros entered the winner's circle for the first time since January 2009. The 27-year-old Spaniard has been inconsistent in the winless period, working over the off-season with Jose Rivero, twice a Ryder Cup player himself, to harness the power he creates with the driver. The hard work has not really shown much of a positive result, he lags way down the driving accuracy category; Quiros’ driver is like a wild horse, there’s no point trying to catch it, just get it running in the right direction.

As we saw on Sunday, the driver is going to be wild at times but because he hits it so far, usually he can get back in play or find the green and move-on. That was the way he played the final round, just taking advantage of the chances he got, firing at pins and taking the medicine when he’s wayward with the driver. Quiros now moves onto Sawgrass for this week’s Players after he said last week that he finds playing in America difficult. However, with his length and happy-go-lucky demeanor, who knows, Quiros could pull a few surprises.

Morrison was a big disappointment in the playoff. Having won in only his 14th European Tour start in Madeira a few weeks ago, the 25-year-old Englishman had a great opportunity to make it a second victory in his 15th. An uncharacteristic miscue from the middle of the fairway in the playoff put pay to that, but Morrison is now surely on the Monty radar.

Jimenez, McGowan and Davies will also be featuring in the preliminary thoughts for Montgomerie. McGowan will need to continue the form he showed at the Dubai World Championship when he finished runner-up to Westwood. He’ll need to keep performing on the world stage.

It would be a fourth appearance for the crafty veteran Jimenez, who may need to rely on a sponsor’s invite from Monty.

The more intriguing player is Davies, who offers the best hope for a Welsh player on Welsh soil in the Ryder Cup. A winner in Morocco, Davies has registered four top 6 finishes in this his rookie season. The next couple months are going to be crucial for the former East Tennessee State golfer as the pressure mounts in his homeland and the clock ticks down toward the Johnnie Walker Championship where the team will be finalized at Gleneagles on Aug. 29.
This week the tour moves to Italy for the BMW Italian Open where Matteo Manassero will make his debut as a professional. The 17 year old has already played four rounds as an amateur at both the Open Championship and the Masters. Also in the field is 54 year old Costantino Rocca, who, 15 years ago, banged the valley of sin with his fists after holing a monster birdie putt on the 72nd hole at St Andrews. Rocca has set the standard in the modern era for Italian golf. The first from his country to qualify for the Ryder Cup, where he beat Tiger Woods in his third outing at Valderamma in 1997, and winning significant titles like the BMW PGA Championship and Omega European Masters. Rocca never did get his hands on a major, his best chance came at St Andrews in 1995, but John Daly edged him in the playoff. Manessero begins his journey as a pro on Thursday with a whole career ahead of him, there’s no doubt his dreams will include going one better than Costantino.