Colin Montgomerie on his toughest Ryder Cup opponents and a fatal career error

Montgomerie captained the European team to a win in 2012 at Celtic Manor.

What do you remember most from your first Ryder Cup, in 1991?
I remember everything that went on that particular week, from being woken up by some local DJ at 4 o'clock in the morning, to Seve and Langer holding each other and crying in our locker room after we'd lost. After that, I wanted to be part of this Ryder Cup for a long, long time.

What was the highlight and lowlight of your Ryder Cup career?
Highlight was winning as a captain [in 2010]. Lowlight was losing the very first one. I think the first loss was the hardest to take in '91, when we had a great team.

Do you have any special Ryder Cup keepsakes?
We get a Rolex watch every time we play. I have nine now. They're unique, you can't replace them. I actually have a clause in my will that they will be passed down to my son.

Which European player of all time would you pick to make a five-foot putt to win the Ryder Cup?
Right now it would be Luke Donald. Back a few years ago, and I know he missed an eight-footer in 1991, I would have put money on Bernhard Langer. Langer 15 years ago is Donald now.

Which American was the toughest opponent for you in the Ryder Cup?
Paul Azinger was a great opponent and tough, very tough. Ray Floyd was extremely tough. A hard man. Tiger, Mickelson, not so, in that way. You felt that there were openings to take advantage of. The toughest opponents are the ones that don't give you anything.

You were often rudely received in the U.S….
I gave an inch, they took a mile, yes.

Is there anything that you feel you could have done differently?
In 1997 at Congressional I was leading the U.S. Open. It was a rain delay and a lot of the spectators went to the bars. They came out after the rain delay and were…I don't know a polite way of saying it. And I made a fatal error — I answered back to the crowd. It hurt me for about five years in America. I was No. 2 in the world and I should have won, and this didn't allow me to play to my potential. It was my fault.

Tony Jacklin mentioned you as someone who thought he could come over for a few weeks, win a U.S. Open, and go back to living in the UK full-time. Your response?
I did think I could do that. And if it wasn't for someone's great shot or being a little bit unlucky, I would have won a number of times. It just so happened it didn't work out. I wouldn't change it. I just feel I was unfortunate — the door was ajar, I just couldn't walk through it.

Of your second-place finishes in majors, which was the one that really got away?
Winged Foot in 2006 got away because it was my fault. The other five were because of someone else's good play.

How often do you think of that 7-iron approach on the 18th at Winged Foot in 2006?
I don't, unless people mention it. Put it this way: If I had one shot to play again, that would be the one.