Colin Montgomerie is one of the all-time Ryder Cup greats, undefeated in singles since his debut at Kiawah Island in 1991, but he’ll be watching from home this week after failing to qualify for the team or earn one of Nick Faldo’s two captain’s picks.
No one ever called Faldo sentimental. The Telegraph (UK) caught up with Monty to get his thoughts on this week’s Ryder Cup, and the wily veteran offered some surprising insight on who will win the Cup. Forget about which team has more camaraderie and who played more match-play events as kids: It’s the rookies, stupid. "I think over the years – I think if you look back to 2002 was my first view of this – it's how the rookies do," Montgomerie said."We tend to forget there were four rookies in our 2002 Ryder Cup team with Sam Torrance. Now none of those rookies lost their singles matches."There was Paul McGinley, there was Niclas Fasth, there was Pierre Fulke and there was Phil Price – four of them and not one lost their singles."That's why we won the Ryder Cup in 2002, nothing to do with what happened with myself or anyone else, that's why we won the Ryder Cup."This time we have three or four rookies as the Americans do and that's what's going to win or lose the Ryder Cup on either team, is how the rookies perform – especially in the singles." The story is titled “Colin Montgomerie backs the rookies to win Europe their fourth consecutive Ryder Cup,” although I don’t see any quotes from Monty that make this claim. It actually sounds like Monty sees this Cup as a toss-up, going to the side with the rookies who play the best. (Europe’s rookies are Justin Rose, Soren Hansen, Graeme McDowell and Oliver Wilson. The U.S. rookies are J.B. Holmes, Hunter Mahan, Anthony Kim, Steve Stricker, Ben Curtis and Boo Weekley.)
Monty’s absence at this year’s Ryder Cup is the subject of Scotsman writer Mike Aitken’s blog today. Aitken talks to former European captain Bernard Gallacher, who says Monty’s cold blood on the opening tee will be tough to replace. "When Harrington and Monty went off against Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods at Oakland Hills, they matched the Americans shot for shot in the top match and defeated them. And when they went off first again, on a very atmospheric first tee at the K Club against Tiger and Jim Furyk two years ago, Woods was nervous and hit his first ball into the water. He didn't even need to hit a wood that morning –- he could have knocked a 2 iron down the middle. But he tried to hit a career best shot and the pressure got to him." I’ve never understood why Monty wasn’t given an automatic Ryder Cup exemption, at least until he loses a single match, since he was the leader of a team that is in the midst of one of the most dominating runs in sports.The biggest advantage for the Americans might not be who’s here, but who’s not. The Europeans without Monty are like the Doors without Jim Morrison, ER without George Clooney, or the Packers without Brett Favre.
Whoops, scratch that last one.