Thursday, January 29, 2009

Captain Monty expects to be granted

three personal picks for Celtic Manor

Colin Montgomerie immediately began his attempts to regain the Ryder Cup by declaring that he expects to be granted an extra captain's pick after being appointed yester­day to lead the European team.
Traditionally only two of Europe's 12-man team have been selected as wild cards by the captain but Montgomerie hopes to persuade the Ryder Cup committee that he needs three choices for Celtic Manor. Paul Azinger, America's captain in Valhalla last year, insisted on four.
"I would like more options than we have now," said Montgomerie. "We have committee meetings in Ireland in May, long before qualification starts in September, and all those terms and conditions will be in place before qualification starts. I will abide by the committee's decision but I think you'll find we'll go for one more captain's choice than we have in the past."
Montgomerie was unanimously chosen by the 15-man tournament players committee after a meeting lasting an hour and 10 minutes here but it emerged that only fears over José María Olazábal's ongoing health problems and his dithering over whether he wanted the role led to consideration of a rival candidate to the Spaniard for next year's competition when the panel met a fortnight ago in Abu Dhabi.
Olazábal, at 42 three years younger than Montgomerie, was subsequently expected to be announced as the 2012 captain yesterday but he suffers from a progressive form of rheumatism, has played only twice in the last nine months and the committee decided to delay this decision.
The claims of Sandy Lyle and Ian Woosnam were also discussed but neither man came close. At least Woosnam was skipper in 2006 but Lyle, despite his major victories, nowwill now never realise his ambition.
Oliver Wilson, who made his Ryder Cup debut last year with Nick Faldo in charge, expects more talking and a greater team spirit under Montgomerie. "The best thing will be his communication to all the players," Wilson said. "Anyone who makes the team will know him really well. Every­one's going to be comfortable with him. He's going to be able to talk to every­one, bring everyone together and put every­one in the right frame of mind.
"Faldo and Montgomerie have two very different personalities. Monty is going to be more communicative with the players. Everyone will know him better than Faldo – and they may be more comfortable with him because he is younger."
Darren Clarke, a member of the players' committee, said the Scot's playing record – he has won 23.5 points, only 1.5 points behind Faldo's record – was an important factor. "He's been the Ryder Cup talisman for many years," Clarke said. "He'll be very player-orientated; he'll take a keen interest in how the players are doing."



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