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Montgomerie wants to end Ryder Cup bidding

Colin Montgomerie, himself a candidate to lead Europe at the K Club in 2006, yesterday called for an end to "the bidding war" now surrounding the appointment of Europe’s next Ryder Cup captain. The Scot fears the public debate may scar both the dignity of the position and the players who seek it.

Even before the captain for the 2004 match has been announced - Ian Woosnam, Bernhard Langer and Sandy Lyle are the candidates - Nick Faldo has also thrown his hat into the ring for 2006 and suggested there needs to be more transparency in the process of making an appointment.

Monty begs to differ and feels the old system where the Ryder Cup board made an invitation to a player in private (a custom still used by the PGA of America) was preferable to the new concept of candidates effectively writing CVs and putting themselves forward for selection.

"We tend to be getting into a bidding war," opined the Scot. "There seems to be three people up for the next one. Fine, but two people are going to lose out and we don’t want a situation where people feel as if they’re losing out. The captaincy should be announced - asked in private, accepted and then announced. No winners or losers. As opposed to being played out in public.

"If the Tour ever asked me, of course I’d gladly accept, whenever or wherever. But it should be announced, not bid for. I don’t feel that’s right. I’m more of a white smoke kind of a guy."

Having suggested it might be best for all concerned if there was less campaigning for the captaincy, Monty, understandably, was reluctant to look ridiculous by standing on a soap box. He’s never made any secret of his wish to captain the team - preferably four years from now in Ireland - but may have to keep his powder dry if Langer, Woosnam and Faldo are all invited to take a turn before him. "The most important thing is to select the right man for the job," he added.

According to Woosnam, his opportunity to lead Europe needs to come sooner rather than later. "Obviously I’d like to do it in Wales in 2010 but that could be too far down the line for me," admitted the former Masters’ champion. "I want to do it when I’m still playing with the guys on the circuit.

"Bernhard, with all his experience in the States would be perfect for America. Then I could do it in Ireland. The Welsh and the Irish get on pretty well. After that, it’s Nick Faldo or Colin Montgomerie."

Which would leave Celtic Manor in 2010 as a possible captaincy opening for the Scot with Terry Matthews, the owner of the resort, paying a glowing tribute to the Troon man at a dinner last night. "My reason for singling out Colin goes further than his golfing record," said the businessman, "although his list of achievements does seem endless. "Colin was also a fine ambassador for Scotland’s bid to stage the Ryder Cup. We are now in a situation where Scotland and Wales have moved from being competitors to being on the same team - with Celtic Manor passing the baton to Gleneagles for 2014.

But Matthews’ millions - first prize at this week’s Welsh Open is £250,000 - have not succeeded in attracting a truly glittering field to Celtic Manor. For one reason or another defending champion Paul Lawrie, England’s Paul Casey and Volvo PGA winner Ignacio Garrido have dropped out. Only two of the world’s top 50, Monty and Michael Campbell are present and correct.

As for Stevie Rawlinson, Monty’s new caddie, the Sunderland man has let if be know he wouldn’t have left Stephen Leaney for any other golfer apart from the Scot.

Yesterday the pair appeared to get on like a house on fire during the pro-am. Rawlinson is a cheery soul and Monty, renowned for his thunderous glowers, says he’s looking forward to smiling more on the course.

Mind you, as the Scot acknowledged, Rawlinson won’t know the extent of the task in hand until Monty is one ahead playing the last hole on the final day of a sweltering US Open. "That’s when he’ll really earn his money."

Of the other ten Scots in the field, Gary Orr hopes to build on a return to form at Wentworth when a clean bill of health and a new driver worked wonders for the Helensburgh man after a bout of tonsillitis.

Stephen Gallacher, on the other hand, left a decision on competing this week until the last minute and only flew down to Wales from Edinburgh yesterday after suffering a recurrence of back trouble.


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