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Colin Montgomerie eases tournament pressure
May 6, 2010

Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie has relaxed his stance on potential team members playing in three key British events before Europe meet United States in October.

Montgomerie had urged his players to make a special effort to compete at this month’s PGA Championship at Wentworth, the Wales Open at the Ryder Cup venue Celtic Manor in June and the last points-counting event, the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles in August.

However, after the recent success of Britons Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy in the U.S., Montgomerie is happy for his players to make their marks on the PGA Tour.

“It’s unfortunate the Wales Open is opposite the Memorial Tournament (in Ohio),” Montgomerie told reporters on the eve of the Italian Open.

“That will mean several potential team members will be missing but if they play well in the Memorial, I’ll let them off.

“They can carry on earning world list points (to get in the team) and I’ll be perfectly happy if they do that.”

Montgomerie said he was pleased with the early-season displays of Poulter, Westwood and McIlroy.

“It’s good for Europe if our players do well over there and we’ve already had great success: three out of four players in the Accenture (Match Play) semi-final (in Arizona) and Ian winning it,” said the skipper.

“Then we had a great performance from Lee (to finish second) in the U.S. Masters.

“Rory’s performance last week followed it all up. To shoot a (closing) 62 on a course of that quality to beat someone like Phil Mickelson (at the Quail Hollow Championship in North Carolina) can only help the European cause.”

Montgomerie said the lineups were still going to be strong at Wentworth, Newport and Gleneagles.

“We’ve got the strongest field I can remember for the PGA; players like Luke Donald have changed their schedules to get experience of Celtic Manor and I don’t doubt we’re going to have a great field at Gleneagles,” he added.

“I like to think that some of that is down to me and if someone wins it is not going to do their chances of playing in my team any harm at all.”

The eight-times European number one begins his latest bid to end his victory drought when he plays the first two rounds this week alongside Italy’s 17-year-old sensation Matteo Manassero.

Manassero, who was an amateur when he became the youngest player to make a cut at the U.S. Masters and before that finished tied 13th at the 2009 British Open, turned professional this week and is unfazed by the attention he is attracting.

“Expectation is for the people,” said the teenager. “I don’t have it. I just play my game.”

Another possible contender at the waterlogged Royal Park course, which caused Wednesday’s pro-am to be cancelled, is Italian Edoardo Molinari.

Francesco Molinari, who teamed up with his brother to win last year’s World Cup, is competing at this week’s Players Championship in Florida but Edoardo decided to play in Turin instead.

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