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Colin Montgomerie seeks "vital" Royal Trophy victory
January 6, 2010

Victory over Asia at this week’s Royal Trophy would be vital in reviving European matchplay golf ahead of the Ryder Cup, according to the team captain for both events Colin Montgomerie.

Having endured crippling defeats to Asia and the United States in the last two team contests, Monty believes wrestling back the Royal Trophy would provide a big lift to the European players and a chance to impress him ahead of October’s Ryder Cup.

“It’s very important to start the Ryder Cup year with a win and it’s important for European golf to get off to a flying start,” Montgomerie told Reuters on Tuesday.

“It’s a tournament we must win. Having lost the last edition of the Royal Trophy, it’s very important for us to get back to winning ways,” he said.

“We’ve been lucky over the last 20 years when you think of our Ryder Cup success and we lost that last time (in 2008), so we need a great start in 2010 and we’re looking forward to victory.”

Montgomerie, who captains the side for the first time, said this week’s competition at the Amata Spring course would give him chance to see which players could handle the pressures of team golf ahead of the battle with the U.S. at Celtic Manor.

Playing alongside Montgomerie in Thailand will be Soren Kjeldsen, Simon Dyson, Pablo Martin, Henrik Stenson, Robert Karlsson, Alexander Noren and Peter Hanson.

“There’s world-class players in my team and new players coming through,” he said. “I look forward to watching them at very close quarters, in a matchplay situation, to see what they do. They’re anxious to prove to me how they can perform.”

After their humbling 10-6 defeat by Asia last year, Montgomerie warned against complacency and said Europe’s opponents should not be underestimated on home turf.

“The Asian team are very, very strong and we have to be very very careful,” he said. “Asia is the up-and-coming continent in the world of golf, there’s no question.

“We said this 10 years ago and it’s now coming to fruition … the competition is as close as it’s ever been and I expect this to come down to someone’s last putt.”

The 46-year-old Scot said he had looked back at the leadership of the six Ryder Cup captains he had played under to guide him as he switched focus for the year completely to matchplay, which he believes is “the ultimate form of golf”.

“Strokeplay is one thing but there are two very different forms of golf,” he said.

“My eye is on matchplay, who is confident, who looks as if they can hold themselves under huge pressure when the Ryder Cup comes along. I’m watching everyone this year.”

Montgomerie will break the mould in becoming the first playing captain at the Royal Trophy, which runs from Friday to Sunday. The dual role would not affect his leadership, he said.

“I can still compete here at this level and I want to be able to do that still,” Montgomerie, whose last individual tournament win came at the 2007 European Open, said.

“I can monitor what’s going on around me quite easily and my pairings are set already, so there’s no real worry there.”

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