SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – Colin Montgomerie is suspiciously eager to see Tiger Woods make the American Ryder Cup team.
Montgomerie said Wednesday that it will be a “bigger, better event” with Woods, but you can’t help wondering if this might be a case of misery loving company with gossip tabloids poised to pounce on both men in the buildup to the international team event.
Montgomerie looked positively miserable when he was asked uncomfortable questions about personal woes early in the Ryder Cup captains' news conference at the PGA Championship.
Golf.com reported Wednesday that Montgomerie has won an injunction in British courts to prevent an ex-girlfriend from revealing details about their relationship. The news organization reported that Montgomerie sought the order to stop the publication of stories about his relationship with former model Paula Tagg, whom he dated in 2006.
The injunction prevents Tagg from revealing “the private details of a personal, intimate and sexual relationship” between the two. The order prevents the publication of information “concerning acts of a sexual nature” or “any such information recorded in the form of a photograph or still image or moving images.” It also bans Tagg from revealing whether such photographs or images even exist.
Asked about the existence of an injunction Wednesday, Montgomerie was emphatic in his response.
“I can categorically say that there’s no injunction against News of the World,” he said. “I’m really not going to discuss this any further.”
Later, he was asked if there was an injunction against Tagg.
“Excuse me, I’m here to talk about the Ryder Cup, OK,” Montgomerie said. “So please, no further questions on that or any other subject regarding my personal life.”
That’s a snapshot of what Montgomerie is facing as captain with the Ryder Cup seven weeks away.
Personal woes loom as an ugly haze over the European captain with the team coming together in the next three weeks.
“I know a lot of you are having a lot of fun right now at my expense,” Montgomerie said when asked about CBS analyst David Feherty’s comments Tuesday about the injunction during Dan Patrick’s nationally syndicated radio show.
The comment prompted a followup as to whether Montgomerie’s prospective team is having fun at his expense, too.
“None at all,” he said. “I’ve spoken to a number of players, and there’s no issue at all.”
We haven’t even gotten to American captain Corey Pavin’s dust up Wednesday over whether he did or didn’t tell Golf Channel’s Jim Gray that he will make Tiger Woods a captain’s pick if Woods doesn’t qualify for the team, but you’ve got more than a taste for the fog stifling the air in front of this Ryder Cup.
These are personal issues that many will find distasteful aired publicly, but they threaten Montgomerie professionally. His reputation as a player is tied so intricately to the Ryder Cup.
He’s a European Ryder Cup legend. Though he never won a major championship, never won a PGA Tour event, his star shines brightly overseas, where he won 31 European Tour events and led the continent to five Ryder Cup victories in his eight appearances. He’s 20-9-7 in Ryder Cup matches and undefeated in singles (6-0-2).
There’s got to be enormous pressure on Montgomerie to win this Ryder Cup.
His team, by his own admission, is a powerhouse on paper, a heavy favorite over the Americans, who haven’t won on European soil since 1993. Four European players among the top 20 in the world rankings are outside the qualifying standard. Some Europeans with hot hands may not even make the team, that’s how strong they’re looking.
“It’s the first time that a European captain has had such a strong team that hasn’t quite qualified yet,” Montgomerie said. “I’m going to have to leave out winners this year, and this is possibly the first time any European captain has had to do that.
“It’s a headache, and it’s a nice headache to have.”
But there’s that larger headache that threatens to create more tabloid fodder.
In May, a newspaper published a story alleging Montgomerie had an affair with a former girlfriend, Joanne Baldwin, during his marriage to his second wife, Gaynor Knowles. Montgomerie released a statement apologizing for the “hurt I have caused to the ones I love so much” and saying he and his wife were “working through these problems.”
Montgomerie was divorced from his first wife in ’04. The relationship with Tagg was reported to be in ’06. He married Knowles, the widow of a furniture tycoon, in ’08.
All of this brings us back to Montgomerie’s eagerness to answer the question Pavin doesn’t want to answer.
Should Woods be a captain’s pick if he doesn’t qualify for the American team?
With Pavin curiously looking on, Montgomerie was asked just that by a reporter Wednesday.
“That’s a very difficult, dangerous and undiplomatic question,” Montgomerie said. “But, of course, I would pick him.”
Notably, Montgomerie’s interest in whether Woods will play the Ryder Cup dates back to before Montgomerie’s own most recent personal woes came out. In a story Montgomerie wrote for the Telegraph six months ago, he spelled out his thoughts:
“Turning up at Celtic Manor could be one of the hardest things Tiger ever does. He won’t worry about hitting the ball, but he will worry about how the wives of the other players will react to him.
“Some of them will be friends with Elin and they will sympathise with her anger and pain. Some of them might find it hard to welcome Tiger back into the group. I’m sure it is something that the American captain, Corey Pavin, will be giving a lot of thought to.“I am speaking from some experience here. When I played in the 2004 Ryder Cup I had just gone through a difficult time in my personal life. I wasn’t sure how things would be. I was on my own. I didn’t know how everyone would react.”
Montgomerie is back in the same boat wondering how folks will react, a boat he might find comfort sharing with Woods.
We aren’t sure why Montgomerie’s so eager to see Woods make the trip to Wales. He subtly hinted that it might be the fact that the American team won without Woods. He was clearly trying to be funny.
Whatever Montgomerie’s reason, he appears more eager than anyone to see Woods make the team.